Return of the Reading Mentor

Traci MurphyAug. 29, 2023

Why one longtime Reading Mentor continues to volunteer with Lead to Read KC

The school year has just started, and 28 schools need Lead to Read KC’s reading and mentoring services. We are always looking for new Reading Mentors and are grateful to the volunteers who return year after year. Maryann Hughes is one of those returning Reading Mentors and, aside from a short break, has been a part of our program since 2011.

Maryann and two readers during a session in 2013.

“I became a reading mentor because I was looking for a way to volunteer in the community, but I couldn’t make a large time commitment,” Maryann said. “Someone I knew posted about Lead to Read, so I reached out. I just loved the lunchtime format.”

Since the organization’s beginning, Lead to Read KC sessions, one lunch hour each week, have taken place in elementary school classrooms with 30 minutes of one-to-one reading and mentoring support.

Maryann began reading at Wendell Phillips when Lead to Read placed Reading Mentors in only a few schools. It wasn’t long before she took on another essential role: Site Coordinator.

“After a while, Sarah Gaikwad asked if I would be a coordinator at the school and I agreed,” she said. “Jean Rundle, who founded Lead to Read with her husband Lynn, and Sarah invited me to coffee one day to talk about expanding.”

Maryann and Sarah during their meeting.

Eventually, Maryann was the Site Coordinator at three different schools. She continued serving in other Lead to Read sites until COVID closed schools in March 2020.

“Many wonderful volunteers participated virtually, but I wasn’t one of those,” Maryann said. She returned as a Reading Mentor in 2022.

Maryann has terrific memories of the children she’s connected with through Lead to Read, and the ease of volunteering keeps bringing her back.

“The time commitment is perfect for working people,” she said. “Amazingly, you do make a connection with the kids in just 30 minutes once a week.”

Ready to make a difference over your lunch hour? Join us as a Reading Mentor! Visit our website to learn more and apply today!