Community connections

Senior living community partners with local school

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Volunteer Marilyn Adler listens to second-grader Trinity Archer read her a story. Adler is one of several volunteers from Columbia Ridge Senior Living who reads with students on a weekly basis. "It's nice to be around the kids and work with them," the retired teacher said.

Nearly every Thursday, volunteers from Columbia Ridge Senior Living board a van and make a quick trip to Woodburn Elementary School, a mile away.

There, they spend the next hour or so reading with second-grade students. It’s a partnership that works well for all involved.

“It’s a real benefit for both the students and the volunteers,” said Melissa Dolan, school counselor. “The kids love the one-on-one attention and the volunteers feel appreciated.”

Woodburn Elementary School opened in the fall of 2013. It is the newest building in the Camas School District.

In January, Michelle Kendoll, an employee of Columbia Ridge, contacted Dolan to see if she’d be interested in having some volunteers come over to read with students.

“This is the first community partnership we’ve had the opportunity to do and it’s working well,” Dolan said. “I think we will do it again next year and add another day or grade level.”

Kristina Amundson, a second-grade teacher, enjoys the opportunity to give her students a personalized reading experience.

“The kids really look forward to reading with ‘the grandparents,'” she said, smiling. “And the volunteers love to be here. Many come from a background of education, and enjoy giving feedback on how the kids read and their comprehension.”

Volunteer Marilyn Adler is a retired junior high and high school teacher. She doesn’t hesitate to let teachers know how the children are progressing in their reading comprehension.

“Those who read with inflection and understanding are much better students,” Adler said. “They understand what they are reading, not just repeating it back.”

She enjoys spending time with the young students.

“It is nice not to be around old people all day,” she joked. “I just really enjoy being with the kids and working with them.”

Trinity Archer enjoys reading with the volunteers.

“I like how they always say ‘hi,’ and how nice they are to me and they always say I do a good job of reading,” she said. “It makes me feel like I can read really well.”

Gabriel Cowart appreciates the feedback from volunteers.

“I like how they correct you if you do it wrong and show you how to do it right,” he said. “I also like how they enjoy the books that we read.”