Raising Readers in Story County

May Volunteer Spotlight

  Thad Stanton


This month, we’re highlighting Thad Stanton, RRSC K-3 Reading Buddies Volunteer Tutor! Thad has lived in Story County since 1983, when his family moved to Iowa from Connecticut. He loves the Ames Public Library and states “We are fortunate to have a wonderful library in Ames, and chances are good you will see me there at least once a week reading ‘something new’”.   He also enjoys collecting and repairing old railroad watches, vegetable gardening, bicycling, camping, and of course…reading!  

Thad retired after 32 years working at the National Animal Disease Center as a research scientist in December 2014. Thad loved being a scientist. “Being a scientist is a great job.  You get to learn something new (and cool) every day when sharing ideas with colleagues and friends, by performing experiments to find new ways to improve people’s lives, and through reading many different scientific journals.  After retiring, I wanted to share some of my knowledge of science, life experiences, and enthusiasm for learning with a new friend.  The RRSC offered this opportunity!  So when I saw the RRSC opportunity on last year’s Story County Volunteer Program list, I signed up”.  

Thad has volunteered for RRSC in several different ways, including labeling books that go out through our many programs, but he loved being a volunteer for K-3 Reading Buddies. When asked why he has already signed up again this year to be a volunteer tutor, Thad joked, “Geez, I could write a chapter on the importance of the RRSC program for both reader and ‘coach’”!

He tells RRSC that he has two very important motivations for returning:

1.My reading buddy gained 2 levels in reading ability over the summer!!    There are studies demonstrating that intelligent children with disadvantages due to social, economic, or medical circumstances lose ground to more advantaged children due to lack of learning activities during the 3-month school summer vacation.  So there is a real need to keep the personal learning process of these children moving forward with one-on-one, positive encouragement through these layoff months.  In the RRSC program, children are encouraged to choose/borrow books that they read both at home with their families and at the buddy sessions.  They are challenged to become better readers in a welcoming environment.  It’s easy to volunteer again for a worthwhile and well-designed program, like RRSC.

2.It was a surprise to learn that all the class facilitators were female and the vast majority of reading buddies were female.  Where are the guys?  A grandfatherly person can offer different perspectives and life experiences to young people.   I enjoyed talking with, laughing, and learning from my reading buddy.   He improved my insights and skills as a grandfather.   In my career I was never able to be a teacher and Reading Buddies provides that opportunity. 

As you can see, Thad is passionate about his volunteer work and encourages others to join as well. “Reading is both a window to new views and understanding of our world and a door leading to new opportunities in life.  Helping young people learn to read and develop an enjoyment for reading is one heck of a way to give back a little in return for all that we have been given”. 

Thank you Thad! If you are interested in learning more about volunteering for K-3 Reading Buddies, please contact RRSC or visit our K-3 Reading Buddies info page. 

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