The program at is not new, but it was restructured this summer, and according to Teen Room Librarian Kimberly Lynn, the changes were very successful.
Instead of being assigned to do various projects, the volunteer students, grade 6-12 were paired up with children grades 1-6 in a program.
The free enrichment program that ran June 27 through Aug. 24 gave children the opportunity to practice their reading, on a one-on-one with a volunteen over the summer. It also allowed the library to accommodate more teens as volunteers.
"We had 50 volunteens and 30 children," said Lynn. She explained that most volunteens were paired with different children each time.
Twenty minute sessions were held Monday and Tuesday afternoons and Wednesday evenings. Teen mentors were required to attend training sessions and commit five hours over the summer. Parents could register their children for no more than one session per week.
An information sheet about each child's reading needs was filled out by parents which allowed the librarians to pre-select books, according to Lynn.
Concurrently, the volunteens had to fill out application forms. One of the questions asked was why they were interested in volunteering. "We wanted the kids to fill out the forms, not their parents," she explained.
Lynn said all the volunteers, regardless of their reasons, seem to blossom as role models and leaders.
Clare Curran-Ball, Teen Room librarian said they initially learned of the "Read to Me" program from another library website, and "tweaked it to meet the needs here."
"This was the most successful volunteen program, and we plan to continue it during the school year on a smaller scale," she explained.
Steven Kimball, 15, rising sophomore at , volunteered four times over the course of the summer. As to why he decided to become a volunteen, he said, "I thought it was a great opportunity to help the community and to help kids develop reading skills."
On Tuesday, Kimball was paired with Daniel Shin, 7, who has attended weekly over the summer. Although this is Kimball's first time paired with the 2nd grader at , he described Daniel, "as a pretty good reader."
Jordan Janeiro, 14 a rising sophomore at the high school and her sister Meghan Janeiro, 13, an eighth grader at are first year volunteens.
Jordan, who wants to be a teacher, said the program is a "great way to give back, and help out future generations."
Meghan said she remembers being little and struggling with reading. "I want to help those children who are both advanced readers and those who struggle to get better at reading," she said.
Curran-Ball agrees with why the teens volunteer. "They want to be part of something bigger than them," she explained.
For more information about the Volunteen program, check out the Teen Room website.