Education
9:28 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Creating A Villiage To Raise Children

One group of Triad students is reaching back to help another group get ahead.

6-year-old Jazury Salinas sits at a small table next to her tutor Jasmine Wright. “A brown puppy came up to him," Jazury carefully works to clearly pronounce the word, puppy. "Everyone sang, Happy Birthday. It was the best birthday ever.” Jasmine cheers on the first grader. They're in the library at Jazury's school, Easton Elementary on Clemmonsville Road in southeast Winston-Salem. Her family is from Mexico. Her mother, Teresa Azcorra believes Jazury is benefiting from Jasmine and a new tutoring program. She also believes it is important for her daughter to be able to understand the English speaking people in her school and community.

This afterschool program is through the I-Rise Literacy Academy from Winston-Salem State University (WSSU). Program director Dr. Kim Pemberton says the tutors are WSSU Education majors preparing to become elementary school teachers. “Literacy is the ticket to life," Dr. Pemberton contends. "We read for pleasure, for information, to make sure we’re giving our children the right medication. So our children suffer when they don’t have strong literacy skills,” she explains.

The I-Rise Literacy Academy is geared for students in grades K-through-5. But Dr. Pemberton says Easton’s principal wanted it tailored for first and second graders. Every Wednesday afternoon from 3:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m., the children meet their tutors in Easton’s small library. Tutors are each assigned a student and for 9-weeks they work on reading comprehension, word recognition and reading fluency. According to Dr. Pemberton, in addition to helping the children, this program supports their parents. “Parents are willing with their fresh ideas and questions however they don’t always know what they need to do to help their children," says Dr. Pemberton. "While my students are tutoring one-on-one, parents will come in the last hour and I work with parents on skills.”

When the program began February 26th, there were 18 students—one for each tutor. Dr. Pemberton says last month, that number increased to 25. “As I came in this afternoon, the children were eager. The teachers even thank me for being here to help the children. One teacher said the children are so excited. So it’s a win-win, everybody benefits.”

Tutoring wraps up April 23. But Dr. Pemberton hopes the I-Rise afterschool program will move into the bottom level of the Simone Greene Atkins Community Development  Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. It was formerly the old Boys and Girls Club. Tutoring services for K-5 will be offered during the fall 2014 semester.

The I-Rise Literacy Academy is helping children develop stronger reading skills in parts of Winston-Salem.