Reading is a fundamental skill that most people can't afford to be without. One-on-one attention for students who are falling behind is often hard to come by in these times of budget cuts. And area volunteers are helping to fill the gap.
Each week retiree Al Smith cracks open a 1st grader reader to help classmates learn new words. Smith is one of 30 tutors with the retired senior volunteer program. They help out in schools in Henry, Houston, and Geneva counties.
Smith visits Barbara Edwards' 1st grade classroom at Hidden Lake Elementary in Dothan once or twice each week. But educators say the difference they see in their students goes far beyond bigger vocabularies and better reading skills.
And with drastic budget cuts projected for schools around the state next year, educators say volunteers may become even more important.
Betty Armstrong principal at Hidden Lake Elementary says "right now we are very fortunate to have lower numbers in each classroom but that may change drastically next year."
If you are interested in finding out more about RSVP or want to volunteer your time as a reading tutor you can call 836-1300.
RSVP also places volunteers at area hospitals, Rose Hill Senior Center, Dothan Botanical gardens and other locations.