RSVP back in FD school

RSVP began an eight-week reading program Thursday with the kindergarteners at Feelhaver Elementary.

“We have 13 volunteers from the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, and they’re starting an eight-week pilot program in reading to help these kindergarten children enhance their reading skills,” Mark Gustafson, RSVP volunteer coordinator, said Thursday. “This is their first day doing it.”

This is the first program RSVP has done since returning to Fort Dodge last year. Its services were discontinued in the city in 2011 due to cuts in federal funding.

“This really is the first program we’ve got going since we’ve came back,” Gustafson said. “There’s going to be more to happen too, with programs.”

Gustafson said he enjoys reading to the young students.

“I enjoy interacting with the children,” he said. “I’m a tutor at the college two days a week. They’re a little older group, but I enjoy the kids too.”

Susan Winter, Feelhaver Elementary kindergarten teacher, said she was excited about the start of the program.

“It’s neat to see all these adults, these volunteers, that are going to work with the kids and help them with their reading skills.”

The volunteers spent Thursday helping the students with their reading comprehension, Winter said.

“They’re going to ask them comprehension questions after they read, and so that will help them with their reading skills,” she said. “And then our kids are going to read to them, and they’re really excited because they’re all reading now. They’re excited they can read to an adult.”

A surprise, one of the volunteers was grandmother to one of the kindergarten students.

Winter said the students are excited about the program, as well.

“They’re used to reading to me or the foster grandma, and now being able to read to an adult they don’t know well will help them with their reading skills,” she said.

Ryan Flaherty, Feelhaver Elementary principal, said it is a great addition.

“Just walking in and seeing it, it’s really exciting,” he said. “It’s just a great way to get RSVP back into the schools.”