Milford School District has partnered with Read Aloud Delaware to create the Homework Helper Project. The program connects Read Aloud Delaware volunteers with children who may need added assistance.
“I believe Read Aloud Delaware reached out to Dr. Kilgore at Banneker who referred them to me,” Dr. Bridget Amory, Director of Student Learning, said. “They told me they had a group of volunteers who were eager to participate and give back to the community in some way and wanted to know how they could do that. The volunteers willingly agreed to learn and manage our Google Meets.”
Read Aloud Delaware has not traditionally used volunteers in such a capacity. However, they had many volunteers who wanted to make a difference during the pandemic. In an effort to capitalize on the skillset, willingness and passion of their volunteers, they reached out to the district to see how they could. Homework Helper Project has a goal to support all students who may need additional academic help.
“We currently have 22 matches and I have a list of emails that have rolled in this afternoon with additional request for matches,” Dr. Amory said. “These are volunteers in our community and around Sussex County who are interested in working with our students. I have the pleasure of opening each one of the Google Meets, so I have the opportunity to connect with the volunteer, their student and often their family. It has been a really neat opportunity to see some of the dialog and the communication that is happening with these volunteers and our students. We really want to thank them and acknowledge their efforts to give back in a positive way during this time.”
Board Vice-President Rony Baltazar-Lopez asked how someone could become a mentor with the program. Dr. Amory explained that anyone interested in volunteering could contact her at the school district and she would put them in contact with Read Aloud Delaware. All volunteers must undergo a background check and there is a process that must be completed. Once they are vetted, Read Aloud Delaware connects them with the school district who then provide them with informal training before connecting them with a child who could use their help.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, I longed to help others but knew I could do nothing in person,” Iona Holland, a Read Aloud volunteer was quoted as saying in the board presentation. “Volunteering at a food bank or helping at a testing site was not an option for me. So, I kept looking for ways to extend a helping hand long distance. As the fall approached, it became clear that schools and teachers were being stretched to their limits. There was so much uncertainty and the guidelines seemed to change weekly. As the days continued to grow shorter, the plight of the children trying to learn remotely loomed larger and larger. There was so much confusion and despair.”