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A good book and an eager class

Newhall Elementary students welcome volunteers who help them read

Posted: October 11, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 11, 2012 2:00 a.m.

First-grader Vanessa Rodriguez, 5, and Read With Me volunteer Lynn Stegen read at Newhall Elementary on Wednesday.

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Vanessa Rodriguez, 5, has been looking forward to reading “The Big Hungry Caterpillar” with Lynn Stegen since Stegen’s last weekly visit.

First-grade teacher Sulma Gurrola said Tuesday that all of Vanessa’s classmates at Newhall Elementary School eagerly await Stegen’s arrival.

“The children love (the volunteers) coming in and that opportunity for the one-on-one interaction,” Gurrola said. “They all get excited because they can’t wait for their turn.”

Stegen, a volunteer for several years with the “Read With Me” program, seems to enjoy it just as much as her young reading companion does.

Stegen will stay with the class for the whole school year, creating a bond and helping to improve the students’ reading comprehension, Gurrola said.

“As a teacher, we don’t get as much of that one-on-one as we’d like to, and so having someone come in and read with them — it’s fabulous,” she said. “And it’s really important that they get this at that age.”

Talia Einaudi, 6, notices a difference after reading with Stegen, she said.

“Now that I’m reading chapter books, (the practice) makes me faster so I can read at a higher grade level,” Talia said.

“I only have one (chapter book), but I want to get more,” she said.

The program has seen a lot of growth recently, said Ann Unger, executive director of the SCV Education Foundation, which oversees Read With Me.

Starting with only two schools five years ago, the program now reaches eight schools spread throughout four elementary school districts and 76 classrooms, program officials said Tuesday.

And they’d like those numbers to be even higher.

“We have a group of dedicated volunteers who are passionate about reading and literacy and (who) like to help children,” Unger said, listing the only requirements for involvement.

To volunteer or for more information, contact Unger at 661-414-4465 or



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