Rotary Club Reading Seed needs 500 volunteer tutors
Arizona Daily Star
South Siders especially sought to help students
By Carmen Duarte
Tucson, Arizona | Published:

The Rotary Club of Tucson is seeking 500 volunteers to tutor first- through third-graders in 112 elementary schools in Pima County.

In addition to English speakers, bilingual volunteers who can speak Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Romanian also are needed for the program. Tutors must commit to working one hour a week with students and have a choice of schools and grades.
"Our biggest challenge is finding tutors for South Side schools in the Sunnyside and Tucson unified school districts," said Allan Tractenberg, director of the club's Reading Seed literacy program. "Most of our volunteers are retired and live in North and Northwest Tucson.
"We need more volunteers who live on the South Side, and we also need bilingual volunteers. We tutor in English, but there are more than a dozen foreign languages spoken by students attending local school districts. Many are still not comfortable speaking in English," Tractenberg said.
Volunteer Ruth Rodriguez, 69, who works with students at Wheeler Elementary School, 1818 Avenida del Sol, said she finds tutoring children very satisfying. "I love children, and I think reading is very, very important. I enjoy helping them, and I get a sense of great satisfaction when they understand the words."
Rodriguez began volunteering two years ago and said supporting and encouraging children to learn is necessary for their success — something she did for her three daughters.
Tutors are working with children in nine school districts in the Tucson area, and there is a waiting list of students who need help, Tractenberg said.
Since the club took over the program in 2004, it has trained 1,100 volunteers and expanded the program, which then had 125 volunteers working at 14 schools. The program was founded in 1995 by Elizabeth Peasley-Fimbres, a Pima County Juvenile Court judge pro tempore, and Lita Bratt, a retired teacher.
"We hope to train 500 volunteers for the 2006-07 school year, but we need 2,000 more volunteers to help at the schools," said Tractenberg, a former New York City advertising and marketing executive.
Tractenberg was a volunteer tutor for nine years before becoming director of the literacy program. The Rotary Club of Tucson, a service club that promotes educational and humanitarian programs, provided $1.5 million in funding over five years for Reading Seed, Tractenberg said.
Club officials also approached the University of Arizona College of Education to develop a training manual and to assess students' progress in the tutoring program. UA faculty members also wrote a grant, and Qwest allocated $70,000 to the university to establish a library for the program.
Schools or people interested in borrowing books but who are not part of the literacy program can call 798-0700 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., or go to the Reading Seed library at 1920 E. Silverlake Road.
● Contact Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 ,or