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Loyola students start the adventure in reading

May 7, 2010

Students at Loyola University New Orleans are tapping New Orleans youngsters to focus on reading and education.

In the fall of 2008, Start the Adventure in Reading was one of the first local non-profit agencies to partner with Loyola’s Office of Service Learning in an effort to give students a chance to work in the community and help children become more engaged and focused on a healthy attitude towards education. STAIR is a local volunteer-based, nonprofit children's literacy organization that provides one-on-one reading tutors for public school second grade students.

Students interested in doing a community service placement for their work-study hours at Loyola University are referred by Human Resources to one of several departments on campus, including the Office of Service Learning, Loyola University Community Action Program, the Whelan Children’s Center and the Academic Resource Center, all of which offer the opportunity to connect work-study students to jobs in the community.

Jill Douglas, a sophomore studying sociology, serves as one of the tutors to a local second-grader named Justin. Douglas, who has been working with STAIR since last fall, chose to work there because she wanted a work-study job that would allow her to also make a difference.

“I love working with Justin. He and I have formed an amazing bond and I really care for him. I love that I have gotten to work with one child throughout the year. It enabled me to be a better tutor because I am able to understand Justin's specific challenges and needs,” said Douglas.

Kelly Brotzman, director of service learning, who oversees community work-study students in the office, wishes more people on campus knew about the great work happening behind the scenes with STAIR.

“I greatly admire their program of one-on-one tutoring and early intervention model. Their tutoring positions are a great match for many college students,” said Brotzman. “Reading difficulties can affect a person’s life forever if not remedied, so the work STAIR is doing now will continue to bear fruit for many, many years.”

Brotzman said their scope isn’t limited to just STAIR.

“We work with a lot of other nonprofit agencies which deal with young children in public schools, tutoring, education and literacy-related programming for youth and adults: A’s & Aces, a tennis and tutoring program, Urban League College Track, North Rampart Community Center, Freret Neighborhood Center and Louisiana Green Corps, just to name a few.”

Brotzman says many Loyola students continue to work with STAIR after their service learning commitment is over, simply because they enjoy the work and they become personally committed to seeing their child thrive.

Douglas may want to incorporate her work with STAIR into her career after college as well.

“After graduation I hope to do Jesuit v\Volunteer Corps and then work with Ffair trade and enviornmental justice in Latin America. STAIR has increased my awareness of the issues of New Orleans public schools and given me a strong desire to make change within the New Orleans public school system,” said Douglas.

National Public Radio recently interviewed Douglas about her time with STAIR. To listen to the interview, visit here.

For thoughts from student Rebecca Hutchinson’s work with STAIR, visit the Office of Service Learning’s blog, “Learn. Serve. Share.”

For more information on Loyola’s partnership with STAIR, contact Brotzman at kbrotzma@loyno.edu.

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Loyola at a Glance is written and distributed for the faculty, staff, students and friends of Loyola University New Orleans. It is published by the Office of Public Affairs, Greenville Hall, Box 909, 7214 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118. (504) 861-5888.

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