The Curry Coastal Pilot

When a Kalmiopsis Elementary School student realizes a dramatic jump in reading and comprehension skills, some of the credit often goes to any one of the dozen or so volunteers with the SMART program.

SMART is an acronym for Start Making A Reader Today. There is never any shortage of students selected by teachers for the proram, which serves kindergartners through third graders. But there's always a shortage of volunteers.

Adults interested in becoming reading mentors are encouraged to attend an initiation/training meeting scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Room No. 2 at the school. The program starts Oct. 15.

It's not a difficult job. No experience is necessary. The volunteer's job is not to teach children to read. It's to get them excited about books and confidence in their reading skill andndash; no matter what level.

Volunteers generally work one hour a week with two children, half an hour to a child. The time of day varies, sometimes in the morning, more often around the lunch hour. Of course, volunteers can work more than one hour if they like.

Students who participate in the SMART program pick books from the permanent library - and get to pick some from another selection to take home and keep. One of the program's goals is to help children build their own permanent libraries at home.

Any SMART volunteer will say the program is about more than just reading. It helps children learn and improve skills critical to their learning now and to their futures as adults. It also gives adults an opportunity to give back to the community, in a way that brings fun, laughter and personal fulfillment.

Make a difference in a child's life and yours andndash; become a SMART volunteer today by calling Kalmiopsis Elementary School at 541-469-7417.

More information can be found online at

Every child should be able to read.

With your help, they can.