CMS seeks volunteers to read with every student

Bouncy Math at Paw Creek Elementary

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If you can read, talk and listen, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools wants you.

Superintendent Ann Clark is seeking thousands of volunteers to come to schools once a week to read with students. The goal is to boost reading scores, encourage a love of reading and develop communication skills that will serve students throughout life.

“We’re talking about reading, to be sure,” Clark said Tuesday at Paw Creek Elementary School. “We’re also talking about writing, as well as listening and speaking.”

Here are five things to know about the CMS North Star reading push:

1. You don’t need teaching skills.

Teachers have developed lessons and activities to help with skills the students need. Volunteers can tap in through their own phones and tablets.

2. You have a choice of ages and locations.

CMS will connect volunteers with the age group they’re comfortable with and a school near their home or workplace. And don’t worry that they’ll run out of readers who need help.

“Every student in every grade needs additional reading support, no matter what level they’re on,” said Ivy Gill, a CMS principal who’s leading the North Star program.

59% CMS third-graders who passed reading exams

55% CMS eighth-graders who passed reading exams

64% CMS high-schoolers who passed English 2 exams

3. If you speak another language, you’ll be an extra help to students who are learning English.

CMS has large numbers of students from Spanish-speaking homes, as well as those who speak dozens of other languages.

4. You do have to be screened.

Screening for any school volunteer includes a criminal background check. A link to the screening form is in the “How to step up” box.

5. You’ll remember why education matters.

At Tuesday’s news conference, volunteers and teachers talked about how much kids love reading with an adult – and how much adults love helping a child learn.

Clark, a former fourth-grade teacher, said she’s spending an hour a week with a third-grader. “You sometimes forget, especially in central offices, why we do what we do,” she said.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

How to step up

Go to and select “North Star Reading Partners” under Spotlight at lower left. If you have questions email Assistant Superintendent LaTarzja Henry,