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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Back to school and then church

Congregations offer literacy programs to help kids, adults read

Perhaps it’s unusual that something called the Homework Table would generate both warmth and excitement. But it does—when the school bus drops off some 20 children at St. Martin Lutheran Church, Archbold, Ohio, on Wednesday afternoons.

After St. Martin members finished studying Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Church (Zondervan, 2002), leader Cecily Rohrs challenged the class: “Well, OK now, what are we going to do?”

Scott Holland gets some tutoring help
Scott Holland gets some tutoring help from Sue Steiner at St. Martin Lutheran Church, Archbold, Ohio. More than 30 volunteers from the congregation, from teenagers to retired teachers, tutor first- through fourth-graders Wednesdays after school. Janet Wyse leads the group; other teachers are Margaret Keim, Joan Plassman, Marilyn LaPlante and Alice Geiger.
“I have dreamed of teaching reading one-on-one to at-risk children,” responded Margaret Keim, a retired schoolteacher.

The group embraced her idea, and a committee met with the superintendent of schools and a school counselor. The counselor promised to ask teachers for names of students who would benefit from such a program. As the project got under way, these same teachers provided assignments for students and tutors to tackle together.

Each week, after a healthy snack and some small talk, they get started on the assignments. If there is extra time, students are invited to select books from the church library to read. The program is for first- through fourth-graders. Some students attend for a semester, others have been coming several years.


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