Congresswoman Recognizes UNH Reading And Mentoring Programs
By Lori Wright, Media Relations
April 11, 2007
Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter recognized the achievements of two service-learning
programs in the UNH education department – Project Mentor and Seacoast
Reads. The university community celebrated the 10-year anniversaries of
both programs Tuesday, April 10.
Started by Barbara Krysiak, professor of education, Project Mentor helps
educationally and economically disadvantaged middle school students to
graduate from high school, consider college and build self-esteem. It pairs
sixth-graders with college students and was adopted by the University System
of New Hampshire in 2006, which expanded the program statewide to all of
the university system institutions.
Statistics show that in New Hampshire, one out of every five ninth-graders
does not graduate from high school. One high school student drops out every
nine seconds, and high school dropouts are 72 percent more likely to be
unemployed compared with high school graduates. Many middle school students
make the decision to drop out of school before they have even entered high
“Children at this age need as many adult supports as they can get.
The students who work through Project Mentor become role models for these
kids, take an interest in them, and create a connection that often continues
beyond the mentoring experience,” Krysiak said.
Seacoast Reads was initiated in response to President Bill Clinton's initiative
America Reads. The program recruits, trains, places, and supervises UNH
students to work with local school children in several capacities: tutors
in literacy for primary grade children, organizational support for middle-school
students, and educational coaches in after-school programs. Schools participating
in Seacoast Reads include those in Barrington, Lee, Nottingham, Madbury,
Greenland, Epping, Dover, Somersworth and Rochester.
According to Grant Cioffi, associate professor of education who supervises
the program, UNH focuses its efforts on improving the reading and writing
abilities of at-risk elementary school children, fostering children’s
educational aspirations through interactions with university students,
and providing service learning opportunities to UNH undergraduates. Over
an academic year the university places 75 to 100 university students in
11 to 15 schools in seven to nine districts.
Feedback from students involved in Seacoast Reads indicates UNH is succeeding
in its efforts. A recent survey of about two-thirds of students involved
in the program indicated almost all of them responded positively to the
program and nearly all could name their favorite book.
“As the teams of middle-schoolers and UNH students make progress
on reading and writing, the relationship between these 8-year-olds and
the young adults is what is most exciting. The children value their time
with these grown-ups who are really interested in them, and the UNH students
gain a new perspective on what’s happening in the communities around
Durham,” Cioffi said. “Our tutors feel a real sense of responsibility
toward the children they tutor. They show up when they have lots of work
or job responsibilities or just aren’t feeling well because they
know what they do with the kids is important.”
“Over the years, I have come to admire our students for this commitment
and responsibility to children. And it is why I am so pleased that the
congresswoman is going to help us recognize the accomplishments of our
students,” he said.