SPRING HILL — A Deltona Elementary School student sits comfortably with a community volunteer as they read together.
In the school's growing student literacy program, assistant principal Joann Grousse matches volunteer readers with students. "It'll be like reading with a grandparent," she said.
"We want them to build a relationship with an adult," Grousse said, noting that sometimes volunteers who are not teachers or administrators have a better chance to motivate children with one-on-one attention.
"And it gives the community a way to give back as well," she said.
Grousse credits the success of this developing reading program to Barbara Sweinberg, a member of the Hernando County Education Foundation who has taken a special interest in Deltona. "She is the one who is kind of rounding up these volunteers," Grousse said. "She said a lot of people in the community want to help but don't know how."
"We are very honored to have Barbara Sweinberg adopt our school," Grousse said, "and are honored to have these volunteers."
Grousse said volunteers are matched with students in the grade levels with which they are comfortable. She hopes the children begin to think of the readers as grandparent figures.
Sweinberg lives in the area, was a former educator and says she feels comfortable at Deltona.
"I just got involved because it's my neighborhood," she said. She works with local organizations to get funding for books and programs to promote literacy and finds volunteers for the children.
"Deltona is very much all about our students," Grousse said.
Grousse said volunteers are available at different times throughout the day, so students are scheduled accordingly. There is one time of day when the students are not available. "We don't interrupt their reading block," she said.
Grousse is excited about the growing literacy program and looks forward to hearing from more volunteer readers. And she can't thank Sweinberg enough.
"She is a community angel," she said. "(That) is what I would call her."