Pratt & Whitney Power to Read Volunteer Tutors Honored at Special Breakfast

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Faculty, staff and administrators gathered on the morning of May 9 to offer their appreciation, as well as an enticing spread of fruits, pastries and other goodies, and to read a humorous, yet heartfelt, "Ode to Our Tutors" to the volunteers. Twenty-seven of the 30 tutors are volunteers from Pratt & Whitney, and they visit their student at the school each week for one hour throughout the course of the full school year.

Tutors play an important role in helping students realize their potential and achieve their educational goals. Even if a child is too young to understand the future impact, building early literacy and language skills provides positive, lasting results throughout life. At the Joseph O. Goodwin Elementary School in East Hartford, a recent Tutor Appreciation Breakfast was held to thank and recognize the 30 volunteer tutors of the Pratt & Whitney-sponsored Power to Read program.

Deborah Zipkin, director of the Family Resource Center in West Hartford, was on hand for the festivities due to her Bridge Family Center affiliation. She explained, "Power to Read is a program of the Bridge Family Center, it falls under their umbrella ... Pratt & Whitney has been doing this [Power to Read] at least 10 years - it's amazing. Bridge is the fiscal agent, the money that is supporting this program comes from Pratt, goes to the Bridge, and the Bridge administers this program."

Approximately 45 children in the school are in the program, and many of the Pratt & Whitney volunteer tutors who attended the breakfast admitted having a strong bond with their young pupils. The children, too, are "very attached" to their "special person," said Ann Green.

Green, along with Carol Pendray, are assistant directors of the Power to Read program, and Patricia Champlin is the director.

"They're very attached to their tutors, and it's a good thing we've got good constitutions, because when a tutor can't make it, and we fill in, they're disappointed. They'd rather see their tutor," explained Champlin.

"It's certainly added a new dimension to the learning experience, having a one-on-one experience like that, feeling safe and asking questions that they might not otherwise feel comfortable asking in front of the class," said literacy coach Bobbie McKinney.

"It's safe, and it's nurturing, and I know the kids look forward to it a lot. It's probably as much of a mentoring program in a way than it is a tutoring program - because of the bonds," said McKinney.

From the generous monetary support to the caring mentor-like relationships, Zipkin remarked, "Pratt is enormously instrumental in supporting the program."

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