Jewish Coalition for Literacy

CBJ has partnered with the Jewish Coalition for Literacy (JCL) to provide tutoring in a local Redwood City school.





By CBJ Member, Stephanie Rosekind

Just 1 hour a week. . . . Really——that's all.

I am delighted CBJ is now partnered with the Jewish Coalition for Literacy (JCL), providing tutors for young children in a local Redwood City school. With large class sizes and diminished resources, there is a great need for the additional individual attention volunteers can provide these young students. The principal at John Gill Elementary School, CBJ's partner school, is very appreciative of this most valued help.

I have been tutoring at a different school the last three years, a language immersion magnet school. Many of the students there are learning English for the first time and come from low-income homes. I am working with two fourth graders whom I worked with last year. By the end of the last school year, I was working with four students because the need is so great.

One of the children, Marcos, is bright and engaged. His reading is not too far below grade level. We do more than read, and I think the biggest benefit Marcos gains is the individual attention from someone who dotes on him for a mere half hour a week. We play words games, do multiplication tables, discuss ideas, find places on maps, look in encyclopedias, Google information on my iPhone, talk about things in his life——there is a wonderful and natural flow of sharing. I think this is probably the case for most of us volunteers.

As we become more familiar with our kids, we learn about their lives. Marcos recently greeted me with news that he had just gone to Alcatraz; this nine-year-old boy went on a boat ride for the first time in his life.

I have gleaned from Marcos that he spends a lot of time in front of a TV or video games at home, and doesn't get much attention from other adults with reading or other interactive activities. He has a younger brother, as well as a baby sister. One day Marcos was yawning a lot, and I asked him if he was tired. He replied that he hadn't slept well the night before because he was cold, and couldn't sleep. Heart wrenching——no child should be too cold to sleep. This gave me the opportunity to bring him a soft fleece blanket the following week. It makes me wonder how many more children have similar experiences.

One day we ended up reading together in the principal's office. When Marcos left to return to class, I asked the principal if he was getting speech therapy, because he has a very noticeable speech impediment. She told me she noticed it while listening to us, and referred him for speech therapy. I suppose the teachers are so busy with too many students, and this had gone unattended.

Cynthia is significantly smaller than all the fourth grade girls and is a shockingly poor reader. She has told me her parents, her brother, and she sleep in one room together, and she has nightmares. Cynthia had been afraid of dogs, and now asks me to bring my dog . . . which outweighs her. Both my students like that the dog lies down next to us while we read, and the dog is now invited regularly. I see her confidence building, and the school welcomes my feedback on her needs and progress.

Both my students are eager to see me each week, and I love seeing them. This doesn't take much training. We don't need to be trained teachers. The only requirement is a desire to spend a little time with these kids. JCL provides an excellent ONE-time training of two and a half hours.

I feel that for the little time spent, I have some positive impact on these marvelous children. I'm delighted to have this opportunity, which supports our congregation's values of gemilut Chassidim, acts of loving kindness. Many more tutors are needed. Please contact me at if you are interested in doing this fun mitzvah.




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