by Chastity Pratt Dawsey, Free Press Education Writer, originally published in the Detroit Free Press on 5/21/10
Armed with reading materials, 68-year-old Pat McGuire entered a bustling classroom at Robinson Academy on Detroit’s east side, turned to 5-year-old Zariha Steele and asked her what she likes do.
The quiet preschooler hesitated. Then said she likes her Barbie. They chatted some more, and so began what could become a five-year journey together as McGuire read her a book about animals.
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Afterward, Zariha’s awestruck teacher, Myra Jefferson, told McGuire his visit was the first time all year that the reticent preschooler responded to an adult. McGuire is a tutor with the DPS Reading Corps, a regional effort that has attracted more than 5,400 volunteers to help Detroit students learn to read.
After four months of training, screenings and juggling an enormous response from people in 130 municipalities, an estimated 1,875 volunteers have started to work.
Drucilla Wilson, 52, is among them. The Detroit resident said she believes it will make a difference. “It’s so exciting to see the brightness in their eyes as you are reading to them,” she said.
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