Local Elementary School Volunteer Opportunities

Conrad Tolson

Local school representatives were guest speakers at the October Robson Ranch Republican Club meeting. This was a very informative meeting that gave us a better understanding of public instruction in Pinal County, schools in our community, and of opportunities for service. Our speakers were Jeff Lavender, superintendent of Casa Grande Union HS District, Jill Broussard, Pinal County Superintendent of Schools, and Denise Rogers, Superintendent of Toltec Elementary School District (ESD).

Lavender and Broussard explained the bond issues that would be before voters on the November ballot. Rogers also told us of an ongoing, and rather pressing, need for volunteers at Toltec ESD.

Toltec ESD has an enrollment of around 1,274 students in two schools, Toltec Elementary and Arizona City Elementary. Due to the local economy, all students are eligible for free breakfast and lunch.

Toltec ESD is focused on students achieving reading fluency by the end of third grade. Rogers said that reading fluency (not just reading, but for students to understand what they read) is essential for students to stay in school. It has been estimated that each drop-out costs taxpayers $422K over their lifetime. The state has set a goal of 72% reading fluency by the end of third grade, and Pinal County is currently at 30%.

Rogers put out an invitation for people to volunteer to tutor and help these young students to become fluent readers.

The commitment for volunteers tutoring students one-on-one with the Achieve Pinal Reading Program (APRP) is for six months. Each tutor would be assigned three to four students. Each student receives two half-hour sessions each week. If a volunteer does not have time to tutor three to four students, she indicated the school can certainly be flexible.

Most students who will be tutored are second graders identified by school officials after examining benchmark data. There may be some students who are in the third grade.

Personnel from the APRP reading program provide training for the volunteers. The tutoring sessions can be accomplished at the school site or virtually, as fitting to the needs of the volunteer/tutor.

If any of you reading this are interested in helping students reach their full potential, please contact Rogers via email at [email protected] or her office phone at 520-466-2363. If she is unable to answer the phone, leave a message and she will return your call.

The RR Republican Club meets monthly, usually on the 2nd Saturday of the month. If you would like to visit our club to learn more about what’s going on in our community and state, please contact Club President Ceil Levatino at [email protected] for meeting times and locations.