It was early in the morning and the Windsor Oaks Elementary School computer lab was already buzzing with activity. Scattered through the room were kindergarten students in front of keyboards and computer screens. Sitting next to each child was an adult tutor.
“They’re all volunteers,” explained Myrna Simmons, a tutor from the Life Enrichment Center (LEC). “They volunteer their time to work with students needing extra support or just some encouragement along the way.”
The LEC is a nonprofit organization providing literacy tutoring and other initiatives to students from Title I elementary schools. The center began in Norfolk in 2007 and the program has expanded into Windsor Oaks and College Park Elementary Schools in Virginia Beach. Students reading below their grade level are matched with tutors one hour a week for the academic year.
“Right now we have 13 tutors who come in,” Simmons said. “The children are in kindergarten. So, it’s really designed to get them acclimated to reading. Sometimes, when they first enter school, they are shy and haven’t developed a routine. This helps them become oriented to school and to reading.”
Dr. Sherri Archer, principal at Windsor Oaks, is familiar with the program from her experience in Norfolk Public Schools. “I have worked with the organization for years and have witnessed the improvement in student literacy scores based on the support provided by the organization. LEC is committed to serving children and helping them learn to read and I am so grateful for their partnership with Windsor Oaks Elementary and Virginia Beach City Public Schools.”
Nellie Phipps has been an LEC tutor for eight years. “I’m doing this because I love children and I want to make sure that I have a positive impact on them at an early age. I was initially going over to a Norfolk school, but I live in Virginia Beach. This year, the opportunity opened up here at Windsor Oaks so I don’t have travel as far. But the important thing is that we still have great students to encourage.”
Simmons added that these session are lively and interactive. “In these sessions you will hear clamor, but its good clamor. They review words and then they go on the computers and read stories and study vocabulary, it’s fairly comprehensive.”
Tutor Edie Dennis is a firm believer in instilling a love for reading in the youngsters.
“This is important to me,” she said. “This is leaving an important legacy behind. When I was a child I loved to read. So, to teach someone how to read and be good at it, that’s important to me.”