My Turn: Get involved with United Way – become a tutor

  • Monday, March 21, 2016 1:00am
  • Opinion

Juneau is an amazing community that I am happy to call home. It’s a town where good things are always happening in the community. One of those good things is the Learn United Reading Tutor Program. This program is designed to make a difference in the lives of young children who deserve the opportunity to learn to read.

It is my firmly held belief that these young children deserve our support. Studies show that first graders who are not reading at grade level have a one in eight chance of reaching proficiency without extraordinary effort. Students not reading at grade level or higher by third grade are likely to continue to struggle for the remainder of their years in public school. I know that tutors can make a difference in a young child’s life by providing support and encouragement. This is why I support the Learn United Reading Tutor Program.

The Reading Tutor Program is a partnership between United Way Southeast, Coeur Alaska, and the Juneau School District. Now in its fourth year, the program operates in Gastineau, Riverbend, and Harborview elementary schools, serving 39 kindergarten and first-grade students through the efforts of 27 volunteer tutors.

Tutors generally spend 30 minutes twice a week with their assigned student. Volunteers receive appropriate training and ongoing support. No prior experience is necessary. The 27 tutors working with children this year constitute a diverse group of University of Alaska Southeast students, government workers, retired persons, U.S. Coast Guard personnel, parents and grandparents. No matter your background, you can make a difference!

Anyone who is interested in supporting young readers can apply to be a reading tutor by visiting the United Way’s Get Connected page at Once you’ve responded to the need, you will be guided through the process to help you make a difference in a child’s life. Reading is a lifelong skill that leads to future success. We need your help to ensure that each child in our community receives the support and encouragement needed to become a successful adult.

• Robbie Stell is a United Way Board member and retired Provost at the University of Alaska Southeast

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