Students serve through elementary school literacy tutoring program


    By Steffanie Mohan

    BYU students helped elementary kids learn English through the Family Literacy Program Tuesday.

    “The tutors need to know how important they are,” said Louise Parker, director of the Family Literacy center in Pleasant Grove. “They are the reason for the success of this program. And because they care, lives are changed.”

    BYU students gave individual tutoring lessons in connection with the Family Literacy program, which is geared towards helping parents teach their children enough English to function. Most of the children are in first through fourth grades.

    “They have not been able to pick up those basics, and they are missing links in the very early stages of beginning reading,” said Becky Miner, an outreach director for the entire program “That”s what we do is come along and help fill in those gaps.”

    With spring finals almost over, now is the perfect time to schedule volunteer tutoring for fall.

    “It”s always harder to get tutors for Spring/Summer, because there”s not very many students and most students work, so it conflicts with their schedules,” said Jessica Vazquez, an assistant at the BYU University Parkway Center in Provo.

    “In the fall our whole program will start again with tutor and parent training,” said Joan Hill, director of the Provo center.

    Brett Fisher, 8, a third-grader from Rock Canyon Elementary, said he liked his tutor.

    “I think he”s a good teacher,” Fisher said after reading with Brian Whitaker, 22, a junior from Calif. majoring in accounting.

    Whitaker listened to Fisher read and played special computer games with him that focus on reading skills.

    “Probably the least thing I really don”t like to do is to go home,” said Fisher. “I like to read, and I like to play computer games, and that”s pretty much everything.”

    Whitaker started tutoring 3 weeks ago when [insert circumstance here].

    “I enjoy it as well, being able to interact with the kids and helping them to learn to read,” he said.

    Fisher”s mom, Eva Fisher, said she found out about the program through her neighbors.

    “Joan is our neighbor who runs this, and then we have two neighbors that have been coming a while and have really improved,” she said. “They just started like, a week ago. It”s just been a week, and so hopefully by the time they start school, they”ll be ahead of the program.”

    Eva Fisher”s daughter Hayley, 4, also comes for tutoring. (find out spelling of Hayley”s name and whether or not Brett and Hayley are the only kids she has participating in the program)

    Another 4-year-old, Aldana Parodi, went to the computer room of the center to check off how much studying she did with her tutor.

    “We finished two books and then we had a spelling test, huh, Aldana?” said Joy Nelson, 23, a senior from Clovis, Calif., majoring in health science education. After the test, Vazquez reviewed what they did and gave Parodi a sticker for each accomplishment.

    “We win!” said Parodi.

    English is Parodi”s second language.

    “I speak Spanish,” she said. “A lot of Spanish.”

    Another reason that the Family Literacy program exists is to help non-native English speaking parents keep their children caught up with their peers, said Denece Kitto, an educational liaison for the Family Literacy program.

    “And they want to be involved,” she said. “These are wonderful parents. These are wonderful families who want to help their children be successful and have privileges that other children have.”

    Volunteers can call the Family Literacy and ask for Jessica or Joan at 378-1957 or send an email to

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