Every Thursday morning from October through May, a group of eight to ten dedicated volunteers gather at Cummings Elementary School in Keizer to read one-on-one with pre-kindergarten through third-grade students who need a little extra help with their reading.

The volunteers are known as SMART readers. SMART stands for “Start Making A Reader Today,” and is a statewide program offered in many of our schools.

Students at Cummings who need support with their reading get to work one-on-one with a volunteer. Around 25 students get the opportunity every week.

Anne Brightwell is the SMART coordinator at Cummings Elementary. She is a retired Salem-Keizer teacher who taught in our district for many years, including at Miller and Four Corners elementary schools.

Anne coordinates schedules with the adult volunteers, and coordinates reading opportunities for kids with Cummings teachers. She escorts students from their classrooms to the cafeteria when it’s their turn to read with a tutor, and walks them back to their classes 30 minutes later when their time is finished.

Each student gets to select one brand new book a month to read with their SMART volunteer. The students get to keep the book, and are encouraged to read it at home.

Cummings Elementary Principal Martina Mangan says it warms her heart to see how many adult volunteers read with her students every week like clockwork. Many of the volunteers are retired, while others are still working but make arrangements with their employers allowing them to read with kids. Most of the volunteers live in the Cummings neighborhood.

Cummings Elementary would like to thank SMART Coordinator Anne Brightwell and the dedicated SMART volunteers who share their love of reading with kids. Congratulations on being recognized as our Volunteers of the Month for April 2018.

Pictured above from left: Assistant Superintendent Kelly Carlisle with volunteer Anne Brightwell, Cummings Principal Martina Mangan and School Board Chairperson Paul Kyllo.