Church leaders found that many of the neighborhood children could not read. They decided literacy should be part of their mission. But the new tutorial program almost ran aground.
"They had needs more than a lot of kids could express. A lot of kids couldn't read," said Rev. Joshua Haire.
Forty-six students showed up for tutoring this fall looking for miracles.
"I didn't understand what I was reading, so I didn't like it as much," said student Dorell Campbell.
"My problem was that I lost confidence in myself in reading because I was a little bit behind," said student LeAnne McKoy.
But the helpers discovered
"I just don't think we were doing the right things. Because with all of our efforts, and the energy were putting in this, we didn't see an awful lot of results from it," said Haire.
The church and Moore County Schools realized they needed to walk hand-in-hand to teach reading well. Reading teachers went to church and taught volunteers the basics.
"After just an hour, hour and a half training sessions, the tutors grasped the strategies that the schools use," said School Volunteer Coordinator Linda Hubbard.
"It taught me which battles to accomplish, which were a big deal, and which ones weren't," said tutor Tonee Grant
"You read a passage or whatever then you ask them questions to make sure they're understanding. I didn't really know you were supposed to do that," said tutor LaToya Ingram.
After a very short time, McKoy went from third-grade reading level to fourth -- right on target.
"My teacher was saying, what have you been doing. I'm surprised you're doing really great!" said McKoy.
"They broke it down in words and terms I could understand," said Campbell.
Jamal Booker likes being asked questions now.
"Because I understand it better now and I know the answers." said Booker.
"They passed with flying colors and you can't ask for more than that," said Hubbard.
Nine of 10 students tested this year passed their end-of-grade exams.
"The teacher came back with the papers and said I had two high threes," said Campbell.
"These kids become self-motivated when they find out that they can do these things," said Tutor Coordinator Larry Grant
"It just brought tears to my eyes because, I know from where they came and where they're going," said tutor Marsha Kelly.
The students left failure at the altar and opened the book on a more successful future.
More than a dozen Moore County churches want to build similar programs. The school system will help them, too.
How much did this cost?
First Missionary offers the program free to students. Materials were donated, and volunteers did the teaching. And the teachers from Moore County Schools taught the church tutors for free, too.
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