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April 7, 2016

Finding my niche with Reading Partners

By: Rutha Frierson, volunteer reading partner in Charleston, SC

I’m a retired banker. In fact, I was the first African American woman to be employed at a branch bank in my town.

I began working with youths a long time ago — approximately 42 years ago to be exact. My involvement with young people started in Sunday School, and since then, I have realized that “children” are my God-given gift or ministry. I’m still teaching children in the church I attend.

In 2002, I became a substitute teacher for about one-and-a-half years, but this job didn’t suit me. I then decided to start my first business. To be honest, I didn’t like it, so in 2009, I started my second business, which was a non-profit organization. One of the main programs I provided was after-school tutoring. I was a Supplemental Educational Services (SES) Provider with the State Department of Education for three years. We tutored students in three school districts, and I enjoyed it very much. Eventually, the State Department of Education terminated its program for outsiders.

In 2015, I decided to try substituting again. After a few months, I received notification from the school district office about the Reading Partners program. I attended the meeting and decided to give it a try. Wow! I’m sold on it! When anyone asks me how I like my job, I explode with enthusiasm, telling everyone how much I love it!

Having parents with a limited education has motivated me to help others succeed at every opportunity. I realize that the best time to work on literacy is as early as possible, starting from the womb. Reading Partners is truly a blessing, and I know that I’ve found my niche. I love the one-on-one interaction with my students because I can capture their undivided attention, which the students also enjoy receiving from me. My proudest moment with Reading Partners was when I was told that the test score of one of my students had improved by 10 percent. I am also thrilled to note that most of my students’ reading comprehension has improved since I’ve been working with them. I am so very proud of them.

It is extremely rewarding to leave at the end of each work day knowing that I’ve helped, and I love it when a student walks out of the class with a smile on his or her face. I salute the Reading Partners regional and site coordinators at Main Street Elementary School for their dedication and consistency to the program.

Celebrate National Volunteer Week with Reading Partners! Share your story of volunteering on our website or use #ProudReadingPartner on social media.

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