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Communities in Schools runs on volunteers

By Ron Turbyfill

Communities in Schools

SPENCER — Carolyn Miller is all “busyness.”

The retired mother of six relocated to Rowan County from Oswego, New York, after a career in nursing and working with social service agencies. She now serves as a volunteer tutor for more than 25 students at North Rowan elementary and middle schools.

“I like to be busy. I don’t want to sit around,” Miller says as one of her elementary students greeted her. They quickly hugged.

At midday, she’ll go “up the hill” from North Elementary to North Middle to work with students there.

Miller is one of the volunteer tutors who work at the direction of Lyn Wilson and Nessie Bates at North Elementary. Wilson and Bates are student support specialists with Communities in Schools of Rowan County. Using referrals from teachers and parents, CIS pairs students who need help with tutors and mentors from the community.

April 23-29 is designated as National Volunteer Week to recognize the work of millions of Americans who give their time to improve their communities.

CIS provides a training session and helps volunteers through background checks required by school board policies. Trainer Wanda Huntley holds weekly sessions throughout the year to ensure that volunteers understand the obligation of tutors and mentors as they provide support to improve attendance, behavior and classwork.

Overton Elementary School has one of the biggest volunteer programs in Rowan-Salisbury Schools. Organized by Bob Harris, the program has teams of five tutors who work with 20 first-grade students. CIS student support specialist Fran Lescoe manages the corps of more than 100 volunteer tutors who will follow their students through the first years of their schooling with the goal of each being able to read “on grade level” by the time they get to third grade.

Roger Alexander, Chrissy Elliott and Annie McQuaige are mainstays of the volunteer base at Hanford Dole Elementary School.

“Roger is such a good role model for our boys,” says Ann Shepherd, CIS student support specialist at Hanford Dole. “They all give hours and hours of time to our school.”

Volunteers’ work multiplies the efforts of educators and parents and demonstrates an investment of community residents in local schools.

Communities in Schools is a member agency of the United Way of Rowan County.

Ron Turbyfill is the executive director of Communities in Schools of Rowan County. 

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