Most school districts will tell you that volunteers are an essential part of academic success.
The men and women who give their time can make a huge difference not only for students but for the teachers leading the curriculum.
“The children that work with me need extra help in reading and I have kind of a big group,” says Sylvia Elliot, a Reading Specialist at the Rock Island Center for Math Science.
“The children love their turns with Mr. R, he’s one of these volunteers that just has a sense of what is needed,” says Elliot. She was talking about Peter Roudebush, a retired teacher who volunteers twice a week at her school.
Roudebush says he volunteers because he loves kids.
“I started teaching in 1967, so I’ve been around for a long time. I’m a grandfather and I just love children, and these children – like in any school – need help reading,” says Roudebush.
So he helps in any way he can.
“They read to me. I listen to them and then I try to go through and help them make their sounds. A group of kids come in before school and meet with me. Today I was helping them do math problems,” Roudebush said.
Elliot nominated Mr. R for the Pay It Forward award because of his dedication.
“I can count on him. I know he is going to be here. It’s like he’s getting paid, but he’s not,” Elliot said.
“It’s worth much more than money,” Roudebush said.
“We let them know they are loved we care about them, they are important and that reading is such an important skill that they must have to succeed,” says Roudebush.
Mr. R says he hopes others will step forward and assist area school districts in need.
“I encourage others who are maybe sitting home who are not doing much (to) remember that these kids need you. The schools need you. Will you get paid? Not in money. You get paid in the joy and love of helping kids. That’s what it’s all about,” says Roudebush.