Retired Vicksburg teachers create after-school program to help t - - Jackson, MS

Retired Vicksburg teachers create after-school program to help teach kids to read

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
VICKSBURG, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Some retired educators have become front line soldiers in war against illiteracy in Vicksburg.

They are using their own money, time and talents to promoting reading and push students to make the grade. Tillman and Dr. Dorothy Whitley are both Vicksburg residents and retired educators with a passion for reading. 

"Reading is fundamental," said Dr. Whitley. 

"You have to get a driver's license and pay your bills and and all that is related to reading," said Tillam Whitley. 

Now they have dusted off their teaching skills to help students in the Vicksburg Warren School District understand and improve their reading and writing. The after-school program is called Read by 3rd grade and it was created in 2013.

"It was created because my husband and I saw the need to help children who were struggling readers and who were failing," said Tillman. 

They began with only six children and they are now educating more than 50.

They use the techniques from their time in the classroom to help kids fill in the gaps missed during the school day. They touch on the arts and prepare them to take standardized tests.

Phonics is also a big focus during the tutoring sessions.

"See, they have to know the alphabetic principals, they have to know how the alphabetic principal works, that letters represent the speech sounds and they are not getting that in a lot of schools," said Mr. Whitley. 

"The Whitley's are lending their time to tutor these children for free."

An investment they say is paying off in more ways than one.

"We had one parent who came and said, 'I know my child is not that slow, that she can't read and she is dyslexic.' Now that child is making A's and B's and on the honor roll at school. It makes me feel fantastic," Mr. Whitley.

It's success stories like that, that motivates these retired educators to continue helping these students make the grade. 

"Investing in your community helps your community grow," Dr. Whitley. 

"What I get out of it is I am not just sitting on a coach somewhere watching TV. I am not wasting this gift that God has given me. I am actually using this to help somebody else," said Mr. Whitley. 

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