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by Ann Sale, Coordinator for STAIR at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, Metairie

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, they raced into Byrd Hall, excited to spend an hour and a half with each other and the devoted grown-ups who wanted to help them read better.  Eight second-graders chosen by the principal at Bissonet Plaza Elementary School thrived on the individual attention from their Start the Adventure in Reading (STAIR) tutors as they progressed through the curriculum and learned to love reading.  A snack to start each session and five minutes on the playground at the end were special lagniappe.

And on a sunny day in May, these boys and girls donned mortarboards to become the fifth STAIR graduating class at St. Augustine’s.  The proud parents gave glowing reports about the kids’ improvement at school and especially how much they now enjoy reading.  After lots of pizza, hugs and sad goodbyes, another STAIR year had ended.

STAIR is a non-profit organization designed to assist students determined by the public schools to need help in reading.  It was originally designed to fully sponsor all STAIR sites but as the program has expanded to include other parishes, new sites have been required to provide partial funding.  St. Augustine’s provides $4,000 per year for the STAIR affiliation which includes curriculum materials and supplies as well as tutor training and a site manager’s salary.

St. Augustine’s partner-in-mission, Bissonet Plaza is a Metairie public elementary school serving a diverse community.  Many children come from single-parent households and benefit from STAIR’s individualized instruction. Administrators, teachers, parents and of course, the children, sing the praises of the program.

It is gratifying to receive the endorsement of financial support from the Community Mission Appeal, energizing the parish and the program as it continues to help the children of the community.

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