Blazing Through Books is in need of VSU student volunteers to help community children improve their reading and writing skills as well as their social and confidence level.
The program brings together Valdosta State students and children from Pre-K to elementary school grades and offers the kids a mentor through the process of improving their literacy skills.
Dr. Gina Doepker, Assistant Director of Early Childhood and Development Programs, first started Blazing Through Books due to frustration concerning turning kids away.
The Blazing Through Books program started last semester, and resulted in 28 children transferring into the L.E.A.P. one-on-one tutoring program.
“I basically eliminated the waiting list for the L.E.A.P. program,” Dr. Doepker said.
According to Tiffany Long, early childhood major, graduate student and assistant to Dr. Doepker, the children are excited to enter the program and to be able to work with VSU volunteers.
“They are able to enhance their reading and writing confidence,” Long said.
Long felt the program also helped increase social skills.
“They come from different parts of Valdosta and are able to interact with others.”
Through a survey provided last semester, the parents were able to voice positive feedback.
One parent told her personal experience to Dr. Doepker.
“After joining Blazing Through Books, her son just started picking up books and reading them himself,” Dr. Doepker said.
Not only does Blazing Through Books benefit children, but it also benefits the parents as well.
Many opportunities are offered through the program; stress management, a parent education series and a nutrition seminar, are a few programs offered for parents.
Libby Trogdon, also an early childhood major and graduate student, and assistant to Dr. Doepker, helps assess the children’s progress.
“I have not seen one child that hated it up there,” Trogdon said. “The program improves their confidence and motivated them to improve their social skills.”
Blazing Through Books is in the middle of redesigning its program to better improve the children’s reading and writing skills.
“We used to analyze their reading and writing skills, and make four goals for the child, Trogdon said. “But the goals were too broad, so now we’re focusing on finding their reading level.”
Dr. Doepker has been recruiting dorms, athletes and student organizations, but any student who wants to help is welcome to come and volunteer.
“As soon as the kids get into it, they love it. They love getting to know the volunteers,” Trogdon said.
Blazing Through Books meets every Monday and Wednesday in room 2156 in The Sullivan Literacy Center (located in The Dewar College of Education) from 4 to 4:50 p.m.
Arriving at 3:50 is recommended for new volunteers.
For more information, Dr. Gina Doepker is open to e-mails at firstname.lastname@example.org.