Each month, dedicated volunteers or community partners will be recognized for the time and talents dedicated to Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS).
Clara Stanley has been a dedicated volunteer with the Be A Reader (BeAR) literary program that provides students additional one-on-one reading instruction.
“Up until third grade, children learn to read,” explained Gail Flax, BeAR founder. “Beginning in fourth grade, children read to learn. Receiving even minimal intervention for those having challenges with reading, research shows that the opportunity to improve increases dramatically.”
Flax was Stanley’s son’s third-grade teacher and longtime neighbor. When Flax started the BeAR program, Stanley was one of the first people she contacted to volunteer.
“She wasn’t half-way through explaining the program to me and I was already mentally onboard,” said Stanley. “I have always loved kids and I feel like we need to give back.”
Growing up in a large family, Stanley was raised to support and help others.
“I was the youngest of seven children and there were always people in our house,” remembered Stanley. “My mother welcomed everyone and taught us that is was good to share what we had. So, when this opportunity presented itself, it was my chance to share with someone.”
The BeAR program matches each volunteer with a student who has challenges with reading. The pair work together for the entire school year.
“To see the progress from September to May is so rewarding. We are helping them not only with reading, but by helping them build confidence in themselves as learners.”
But, Stanley also taught real-world lessons.
When one of her former mentees came to her not knowing how to tie his shoes, she showed up the next week with shoelaces in tow. The pair spent the whole period practicing how to tie, but the student still struggled.
“He wanted to give up, but I told him ‘When you use the word can’t it means you’re not going to try, so let’s do this together. When he finally got it, he was so excited and proud of himself. I will never forget that moment.”
Stanley said there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the positive influence she and her fellow BeAR volunteers have on the children they mentor.
“This is our future and we need to get more people involved. It’s only one hour a week, but it means so much to these children. If everyone would give back to the community, we would see a major difference in our children and this area. These children are the future.”
To instill this concept in her students, she has them recite a mission statement before their lesson each week.
“If you can read, you can do anything and be anything.”
Become a volunteer or community partner today and make a difference in student’s lives. For more information on volunteering visit vbschools.com.