When reading is “fun again,” it’s easy to get children to school on a Saturday morning for literacy activities. “Reading is Fun with Finnegan” is a volunteer literacy program, currently serving 40 Bethesda ES students in grades 3-5. Now in its third year, the program was launched by community mentor Mickey Finnegan who saw a need and wanted to help.
The program supplements classroom literacy, providing a listening ear and support. The two-hour sessions begin with a read-aloud for the whole group, then reading and discussion in small groups. The children read self-selected books or offerings from their class book club. To reinforce their understanding, the students write about and discuss the books they’re reading.
Bethesda teachers Shannon Melton, Heather Thorpe, Marie Humphrey, and Sandy Williams volunteered with the program for the six sessions this fall, but volunteer teachers rotate in and out of the program so all who are interested can participate.
“When they offered the opportunity to the students, there was an overwhelming response and Bethesda has had waiting lists of students who want to attend the reading program,” says Martha Finnegan, a Berkmar HS assistant principal who supports literacy for the Berkmar Cluster and helped her husband launch the program. “It is amazing that the students attend on a Saturday and that parents are willing to bring and pick up their students.”
Adds Principal Pam Williams, “Mr. Finnegan brings a special energy to our students on Saturday and he really makes reading fun for our students. I am so proud of our staff and community volunteers, our students and parents, and Mickey Finnegan. Because of them, our program has been a success for three years!”