Beloit College Duffy Partnership
Another group of students at Todd Elementary School will get to work on their reading skills with Beloit College students this year thanks to a community outreach grant and an enthusiastic lineup of college volunteers.
Volunteers Helping Students
Over 21 Beloit College students have volunteered to work with first and second grade students this year, giving the younger children the opportunity to read with the volunteers, usually on a one-to-one basis 2 days a week. Since Todd staff prefer first grade students to have the chance to solidify some basic reading skills before working with the volunteers, they will not enter the program until second semester. Second graders have the opportunity to work with the volunteers first semester.
While openings in the program are offered first to students who would benefit the most with the extra work, the program is open to every student in first and second grades as space permits. Volunteers receive an initial training from the school’s reading specialist before meeting the students in a structured orientation.
Beloit College Field Trip
An additional benefit for the students is increasing their awareness of Beloit College, enhanced by a walking field trip to the college, easily accomplished due to the close proximity of the college to the elementary school. Students also relate to the college volunteers, who are a diverse mix with a wide variety of backgrounds.
The volunteer reading program partnership began with Wright Elementary School (grades 4K-5), continuing for four years, until the school was closed as an elementary facility in the Fall of 2011 due to district reconfiguration of elementary grade levels. That year, the program transferred over to Todd Elementary School (grades 4K-3).
Returning Beloit College Volunteers
The key to the program’s success is the volunteer work. Todd Principal Melody Wirgau expresses her appreciation for the volunteers, especially the ones that return again and again. In fact, 8 of the 21 college students are returning volunteers. Some of the college students, she notes, even stop by after their volunteer time is over, just to say hi to the kids, which is a real treat for both.
About Duffy Partnerships
The Duffy Partnerships program at Beloit College is an outreach program that gives students hands-on experiences out in the community to better understand how institutions interact within society. Each student works with a member of the Beloit College faculty, overseen by Carol Wickersham, Sociology Faculty Member and Partnerships Coordinator.
The program is named after James Duffy, a Beloit College alum (class of ’49) and former President of the American Broadcasting Company. James Duffy was also known for his work on literacy issues.
I began teaching in the Beloit School District in 1994 and this is my 8th year serving as a principal. Originally from Rome, Georgia, I now live in Beloit with my husband of 31 years. I’m the proud mom of four children all of whom are Beloit Memorial graduates. My undergrad is in education. My Master’s is in Early Childhood Education from Northern Illinois. I’ve an Advanced Degree in Curriculum and Leadership from National Louis University where I’m currently pursuing my Doctorate in Instructional Leadership.