Ky. Voices: Teachers, students benefit from classroom volunteers

The best investment we can make in our society is to educate our citizens. Sometimes the best resource we can invest is our time. Trailblazers, through United Way of the Bluegrass, are doing just that.

As a teacher, I see that children who struggle in school face challenges which only build as time passes unless there is effective intervention. These kids benefit most from one-on-one attention that I just cannot always give them in a full classroom.

I feel so blessed to have my Trailblazer volunteers. They come in twice each week for an hour and they meet with four kids each hour. They have focused particularly on multiplication facts, which are a foundation upon which so many pieces of higher math depend. The kids our Trailblazers are working with were just not progressing because they did not have the opportunity to practice outside of school.

In the fall, these kids were working on 1's and 2's. At the end of February, after just weeks with the additional support, these kids are up to their 7's and 8's.

Part of the success comes from the fact that these volunteers are there faithfully each week. They have developed a rapport with the kids who are beginning to really believe in their own abilities as a result. My background is in intervention and this program with volunteers is truly making a difference in kids' lives.

One of our Trailblazers provides a great male role model to our kids. He has built great relationships and the kids just love him. Another volunteer is a retired teacher; she brings years of experience to the table and also has built great relationships with the kids. The hour they spend two times per week has made a world of difference.

We are hoping to expand the program to include more volunteers and more kids. We would like to expand into literacy and other areas as well. I am spreading the word to my colleagues. It is so important, especially in the early years to give struggling kids the support they need. The majority of content builds upon the foundations we are building today.

I encourage families and the community to participate in programs like Trailblazers and volunteer to make a difference in education. I love volunteers and it enhances my job. This is a key solution to solving our achievement gap.

There is a lot of pressure to ensure that all kids succeed. It truly takes a village to raise a child. Become a Trailblazer and help a child succeed. Learn more at www.uwbg.org/trailblazers.