Young Readers in the Woods Reading Program Launched

Young Readers in the Woods Reading Program Launched

April 15, 2015

The Young Readers in the Woods reading program

Maybe you’ve been in The Provincial House recently, and found yourself wondering who are all those kids with the books? And why are some of your resident friends beaming with smiles from ear to ear?

The answer is simple: Class is in session.

With the help of an amazing group of Mary’s Woods volunteers, twice a month in the Mt. Hood Dining room, young minds are hard at work improving their reading skills and nurturing their imaginations.

The kid’s books of choice range from Shakespeare’s Hamlet to Japanese Manga literature to classics like Old Yeller.

It’s the new and very exciting Young Readers in the Woods (YRW) reading program that pairs 4th graders from St. John the Apostle Catholic School (SJA) in Oregon City with Mary’s Woods volunteers for one-on-one mentoring, tutoring, and support.

‘The program provides a great way for me and other volunteers to stay active by helping children in the community,” said volunteer mentor Marilynn Taylor, who also accompanies the students on the bus trip to and from campus. ‘The kids are so happy to be here. In riding the bus, as we approach Mary’s Woods, they are in awe of our community, and all of the beauty around us.”

Since February, students from SJA have been visiting campus to meet for an hour with their mentors. The session is broken up into two parts: the first, a 45 minute reading spree meant to help improve reading skills; and the second, a 15 minute chat session where students and volunteers learn about each other by sharing information in a sort of ‘show and tell” manner.

While improving reading skills is the immediate focus of the endeavor, it’s the intergenerational interaction that is the lasting reward for both student and volunteer.

‘The experience was even better than what I was hoping for, and our students truly enjoyed the whole thing,” said Mary Haluska, PE teacher and Vice Principal. ‘The kids could not stop talking about their person’ and how they hope to be able to go back to Mary’s Woods again.”

Aside from improving their reading skills, many of the students have shown a genuine interest in the Mary’s Woods community. ‘A girl inquired about the possibility of having Sisters teach at their school,” said Janice McGuire, Mary’s Woods Community Relations Manager. ‘And a boy, upon seeing the Chapel of the Holy Names, volunteered to be an altar boy during Mass.”

The curriculum also requires the students to write a book report. And the mentors, seizing the moment to not only help with the words, but also to encourage a greater understanding of what they mean, are prepared to assist and provide guidance.

Mr. Ross, the student’s 4th grade teacher, said he was thankful for the opportunity to include his students as part of the inaugural reading program at Mary’s Woods. ‘The kids return from their trip to Mary’s Woods just beaming,” he added. ‘They feel a sense of accomplishment and are so excited to share their stories.”

The hour long session is followed by a short tour to a special place on the Mary’s Woods campus. One day it might be to the Chapel, the next time to one of the many magical gardens located on campus, or another time to the Fitness Center.

Students participating in the program vary from week to week. As part of the school’s program, they are selected based on scholastic performance and for good behavior. Then sticks are drawn for thirteen students who are rewarded with the fieldtrip to Mary’s Woods??though it is hoped that all students can participate at some point.

‘The wisdom and experience of so many wonderful mentors at Mary’s Woods can truly change the lives of young people,” said Marvin Kaiser, Mary’s Woods CEO. ‘What a beautiful example of their generosity and impact on the students from St. John the Apostle School.”

The students will celebrate this effort on June 10, when the program concludes its first year with an ice cream social for the entire class.