When Alice Ruhland retired from the Piggly Wiggly in Kaukauna five years ago, she started looking for something to do.
Today, she tutors kindergartners in reading at Chilton Elementary School on Thursdays.
“I really like it,” she said. “It’s a good reason for me to get going. I love the kids – they are like sponges – they brighten your day.”
Ruhland, who is a member of the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), said the key is to make the students feel comfortable.
“Starting out, you don’t know what to expect because each child is different,” she said. “The first couple of weeks are challenging … then they give you a hug when you pick them up from the classroom!”
On a recent Thursday morning in the tiny RSVP room at Chilton Elementary School, Ruhland asked kindergartner Paige Meyer to read the book, “I Have a Pet.” Paige shook her head and said she couldn’t read it because it was too hard. But Ruhland encouraged her saying, “A lot of times you can look at the pictures and it will help you.”
Paige looked at the pictures of each animal and slowly started reading each page. “Good job!” Ruhland said.
After reading, they played “Beginning Sounds,” a spinning game that helps students identify letter sounds. Paige spun the dial, which landed on a picture. Then Paige chose an item from a box that began with the same sound.
The RSVP room at Chilton Elementary School is stocked with a variety of learning tools, including flash cards, books and games.
Ruhland, who also tutors at Sunrise Elementary School on Wednesdays, works with the students on their ABC’s, too.
“It’s amazing how much they know in kindergarten,” she said. “It makes you happy and proud that they worked hard and it’s always sad to say goodbye.”
Jan Nett is another RSVP volunteer who has been tutoring for 13 years in Chilton. She works with two first-graders on Thursdays.
She joined the program because she believes every child deserves a good education.
“The program helps the children with reading,” she said. “It’s great to see them learn new words and how they sound out the word. When I pick them up from their classroom they say, ‘Oh good, my reading grandma is here!’”
Join RSVP and get things done! If you’re 55 or better and want to make a difference in your community, contact Carol or Jan at the Volunteer Center at 920-832-9360 or firstname.lastname@example.org.