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Students benefit from summer tutoring help

Thanks to a dedicated goup of volunteers and a state grant, nearly 20 Vashon students are receiving free tutoring help this summer.

Vashon Island School District teachers Gail Labinski and Holly Boyajian and family advocate Sally Adam — along with a cadre of recent Vashon High School graduates and other Islanders — are working with students at the Vashon Library and at students’ homes to help the kids make progress in language and reading skills during the summer.

“We didn’t want anybody to lose ground over the summer,” Labinski said. “They’re not just holding ground now, they’re learning. They’re gaining ground.”

With funds from a small grant from the state’s Readiness to Learn Program, each student received a bag full of books and learning manipulatives specifically designed to meet his or her learning needs, she said. Thriftway donated the fabric bags in which the students’ materials are carried.

Items in students’ bags include magnetic boards and magnetic alphabet letters, flash cards and dice with a different letter on each side.

The physical objects help students to learn, Labinski said.

“They’re constructing and deconstructing language,” she said. “They have to keep practicing and have to keep engaging with literature, and you want it to be fun. These are child-proven strategies that work with kids and yet hit the thing they need to be practicing, practicing, practicing on.”

About 18 students who are working on reading skills or learning English as a second language and who are in kindergarten to 10th grade are being served by the summer tutoring program. They are already benefiting from working with volunteer tutors, Labinski said.

“It’s not just a drop in the bucket,” she said. “These volunteers are people who take time off work, who have kids and families and still make time for other people who they can support in their community. ... Their time with these kids is so valuable.”

Islanders working with students include members of the kids’ families — like parents and grandparents — as well as volunteers, including Adam, Boyajian, Labinski, Nancy DenHerder, Alissa Kimbrough, Marie Koltchak, Bailey Protzeller, James Spencer and Sheila Squillace.

“We want to help each of (the students) start out with really solid footing for the school year,” Adam said.

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