Year-end reading tests at Grove Lower Elementary and Early Childhood Center show positive results from the work of 26 Grove Rotary reading volunteers who donated 533 hours this year to help students improve reading skills and enjoyment of reading.

At an appreciation reception on May 17, the good news was shared with volunteers by Tammy Steffenson, reading specialist, and Kelly Trumbull, principal.

Among kindergarten students, 72 percent were below grade level at the beginning of the school year. By the end of the school year, with the help of Rotary volunteers supporting the teachers and reading specialist, the percentage rate dropped to 50 percent.

First-grade students showed 75 percent below grade level at the school year start, but the rate dropped to 50 percent at year-end. In the second grade, 61 percent were below grade level at the beginning of the year, yet that rate had dropped to 35 percent at year-end.

For third-graders, 59 percent were below grade level at the beginning of the year, while the rate dropped to 35 percent at the end of the year.

“We are delighted that so many students reached their grade level in reading," said Mike Bass, who coordinates the program for the Grove Rotary Club. "It’s important to note that almost all students improved, though some just not all the way to their grade level.”

Principal Kelly Trumbull noted that the volunteers make much more of a difference than just improving reading.

“The students are so excited to participate in the program. They come back to class with big smiles on their faces," said Trumbull.

Bass said he expects that the volunteer program will be expanded to include math skills in addition to reading.

Trumbull said one of the challenges is improvements can be lost during summer vacation if students are not encouraged at home to keep reading.

The volunteers discussed various ways to keep the students engaged during summer.

The Grove Rotary reading program has been in place for five years, involving a number of Rotarians and spouses in the effort to encourage reading among children.

Program plans are already being made for the upcoming school year, Bass said, adding volunteers are always welcome to join the volunteer team. A volunteer packet, which includes a background check, may be obtained at the superintendent's office during school hours.