Sheffield City Schools launched its S.T.I.C. (Students Tutoring In Church) program in January 2017. The STIC program is a partnership with the local churches in Sheffield, AL. The program provides fun, fellowship, and reading time for elementary students who need additional support with their reading skills after school. The program targets second through fourth graders. Volunteers from First Methodist, First Baptist, York Terrace, Clift Haven, and Gaston Chapel churches all worked together to get trained on how to teach reading through a reading intervention program by Heather Collum, the District Reading Specialist. Through this partnership, the churches all worked together to set a schedule so that students could practice reading with adults two days a week for nine weeks. The program currently has 41 students and more than 20 volunteers.
Students selected to participate in the program were identified through their mid-year Scantron scores. The focus is on students who are not already receiving other services and showing growth in their reading scores but not at their full potential. After the training, the volunteers work with these students to improve their reading skills. The programs are housed at the Michael Recreation Center and various churches in each community. The students are transported to STIC each day using church buses after school. Keith Lankford, Superintendent said this program can have huge impacts for the district. “Research tells us that a student not reading at his or her grade level by the end of the third grade is four times less likely to graduate high school on time.”
Not only are the churches participating in this partnership, but the community has embraced it by supporting the program through monetary gifts and supplying snacks for the children each day. It is a blessing to see our communities and schools partnering to change the culture in our communities by implementing this great program. “It’s just a community coming together, which is a great thing,” Lankford said.