Mindy Cohen teaches fifth-grade at Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School, located at 201 E. Salaignac St., in Manayunk. Thanks to her and other volunteers, the school is able to continue its after-school tutoring program.
Every Monday through Thursday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Cohen and volunteers tutor about 70 children in reading with the school’s textbooks, computers and Achieve 3000, a program for children who need help in reading.
“It’s good for the kids that need that extra reading help and that’s the bottom line,” said Cohen. “We are trying to help them so that if they stay after school a couple times a week, hopefully we can get them to bring their scores up a little.”
Children are placed into the program if they score below or below basic tests. If students are in danger of failing reading, a teacher will sometimes recommend them for the program if parents are willing to send them.
This year is different from previous years because the school was not able to hire teachers. With low school budgets, the program is now run entirely by volunteers.
Background checks are required in order to volunteer and a major problem for the program is finding reliable candidates.
“The biggest challenge is getting the volunteers to show up,” said Cohen. “When you are in a situation where you’re asking people to give their time. A lot of times if they aren’t making any money they don’t want to do it.”