PEARL CITY, Hawaii --
A young child slowly sounds out words in a book, syllable by syllable, as a Marine coaches them through each sentence. Palisades Elementary School’s reading and writing scores are going up, and the Adopt-a-School Program is helping.
The Adopt-a-School Program has been in action four years, putting students, kindergarten through sixth grade, in one-on-one tutoring sessions with volunteer Marines.
“Our school has put much more focus on students’ reading and writing skills the past few
years,” said Karen Machida, Palisades curriculum coordinator. “The tutoring program is a wonderful tool that helps us develop those skills, and we need all the help we can get from volunteers.”
The school is small and the staff is stretched thin, said Machida.
Marines from U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, who tutor at Palisades and three other schools in the surrounding area, volunteer their time to fit that need in the community.
The Marines attended a training session with Machida to learn the Sonday System, a multi-sensory teaching tool for reading and writing. The students participate in drills assisting them to hear, speak, see and write.
“The Marines and other volunteers that help us tutor the children are doing a great job, and we can see a definite improvement in the children’s test scores throughout the year,” said Machida.
Sgt. Christopher Hubbard began tutoring at Palisades in August.
“I can see the difference every day I come here,” said Hubbard, an intelligence noncommissioned officer. “The younger children can identify letters and their overall understanding of reading and writing has improved.”
One kindergarten student at Palisades couldn’t do that before. But, with 30-minute tutoring sessions twice a week, he can now read simple sentences and write his alphabet, according to Hubbard.
The teachers select the students and the students continue learning the entire school year with the same tutor, according to Machida.
“The students not only improve their reading skills but build a spirit of confidence as well,” said Machida. “They’re more focused in class, and they have sense of pride. The rapport the Marines build with the students is wonderful.”
Marines who want to participate in the program can receive the training and volunteer anytime throughout the school year. For more information on volunteering, call Staff Sgt. Obi Rogers, the MARFORPAC Adopt-a-School Program Coordinator, at 808-477-8955.