Pittsburgh, PA – November 10, 2020 – Environmental Charter School is the newest addition to the Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring program in Pittsburgh. This program, which is offered locally by Literacy Pittsburgh, pairs tutors age 50 and over with students needing extra support in grades kindergarten through fourth grade for weekly sessions during the school day. Volunteer tutors, school district personnel, and the Oasis program director work together to help children build reading skills, self-esteem, and a positive attitude toward learning.
Environmental Charter School (ECS) was suggested for the Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring program by current volunteer and ECS School Board Member, Meryl Lazar. She was impressed with the quality of the program and saw firsthand its benefits to the children. Knowing that there were students at ECS who needed reading help, Ms. Lazar approached the administration and the program was approved by the board this summer.
Ms. Lazar explains, “I wanted Oasis at ECS is because of the wonderful experience I had at Kelly Primary for two years. It was gratifying to see how much the children and their teachers appreciated what we were doing. I wanted the children at ECS to have this opportunity.”
When considering expansion, Literacy Pittsburgh considers districts with an identified need. The primary grades are a critical time for literacy acquisition and build a foundation for future learning. By pairing high-need children with volunteers for one-to-one support, we can help students gain skills and self-confidence while influencing attitudes about learning. Children must be referred to the program by their teachers.
Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring has adapted tutoring to the COVID-19 pandemic, accommodating changing district teaching models, and volunteer health and safety concerns. The program is training tutors to work with the students virtually in five districts. Tutors learn how to use the platform adopted by each district. At ECS, tutors are learning how to use Google Meet so that that they can reach their students at a time when this extra support is even more vital.
The recruitment of volunteer tutors is underway. Because the Oasis program is dedicated to successful aging, tutors must be age 50 or older. Training sessions are ongoing and are held in small in-person groups, following CDC protocols. Currently, tutors are being trained to work with students online. Interested volunteers should visit www.oasistutoringpittsburgh.org or call 412-393-7648 to sign up.
“We look forward to bringing this vital program to Environmental Charter School so that more children can thrive academically,” said Carey Harris, Literacy Pittsburgh Chief Executive Officer. “Literacy Pittsburgh believes strongly in lifelong learning. The Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring program supports not only the children enrolled but also the individuals who volunteer.”
Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring is a national program sponsored by The Oasis Institute, which promotes healthy aging through lifelong learning, active lifestyles, and volunteer engagement. Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring was created more than two decades ago, and Literacy Pittsburgh has overseen the program in Allegheny County since 2013. The program also partners with Duquesne City, McKeesport Area, Woodland Hills, Wilkinsburg, and Pittsburgh Public School Districts. Last year, 161 volunteers tutored 257 children in 34 schools.
“I look forward to working with the community at Environmental Charter School to make a difference in the lives of children and adults,” said John D. Spehar, Director of the Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring program in Pittsburgh.
The Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring program emphasizes reading and writing skills essential to improving academic performance. Volunteers receive 12 hours of training that emphasizes techniques to draw upon a child’s own experience to create simple stories that form the basis for reading activities. The program taps the tremendous potential of committed volunteers age 50+ who have the time, patience, and life experience to make a profound difference in the lives of children.
Literacy Pittsburgh (formerly Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council) helps create better lives through learning. Recognized as a national leader in adult and family literacy, Literacy Pittsburgh is the largest provider of adult basic education in Allegheny and Beaver Counties. Last year, Literacy Pittsburgh helped some 5,000 individuals acquire the skills needed to reach their fullest potential in life and participate productively in their communities. Literacy Pittsburgh provides free, personalized instruction in workforce readiness, high school diploma test preparation, digital literacy, English language learning, math, reading, and family literacy through one-to-one and small class instruction. Founded in 1982, it serves local adults through numerous neighborhood locations and its Downtown Pittsburgh Learning Center.