Andover H.E.R.O.s

Daily Point of Light # 1446 Aug 19, 1999

H.E.R.O.s (Helping Everyone Read Outstandingly) is an organization of community volunteers interacting in a one-on-one relationship with a child who is considered at-risk for educational failure.

In 1996, the Basic Skills Teacher at Long Pond School, an elementary school in Andover, NJ, and her classroom volunteer read about President Clinton's Reading Initiative. The premise of the program was that responsibility for the success of children in both school and life lay with the community that surrounds the child. Believing that the most effective outreach is one-on-one tutoring style, H.E.R.O.s was born.

Many of the children did not qualify for Basic Skills classes, but still struggling with success, they were in desperate need of extra attention. Basic Skills classes are limited to children who score below a present level on the California Achievement Test. Those who score above that level but who are still struggling in the classroom were receiving no aid.

H.E.R.O.s volunteers felt that with additional help this group could easily learn to read, and read well. Through extensive research they located a program to best serve their needs. The group's organizers located a small company in Georgia that offered a volunteer-based program at a fraction of its cost. The program includes intensive training of paraprofessionals, a complete teaching plan with supporting materials, and pre-and post- testing for proper result evaluation.

The program grew slowly with volunteers from many corners of the community joining. Presently, volunteers include retired teachers and professionals, students and parents. The H.E.R.O.s volunteers have expanded their role to include tutoring for middle school students. In addition, they are mentors to those students who have emotional and behavioral difficulties.