National Volunteer Week-Interview 3

By KSU Student Veronica Dexter

Being a grandmother and a great-grandmother, Bonnie Winters loves children and being able to help them. After being a schoolteacher for over 25 years, starting out in a one-room schoolhouse, Bonnie wanted to be able to keep helping children after retirement.  A perfect way to do this was through Manhattan’s RSVP’s signature program, Schools of Hope, where mentors are paired up with a student to help create a positive learning environment while becoming more proficient readers. Schools of Hope is currently in four schools in the Manhattan district where they work with kindergarten through 3rd graders.

Growing up in rural Delphos, Kansas during the Great Depression, her family moved to Salina so that she would be able to attend high school. After high school she began teaching in a one-room schoolhouse.  She went on to raise a family but still wanted to be able to teach so at the age of 50 she went back to school and got her teaching degree.

When Bonnie’s daughter saw an advertisement for the program in the Manhattan Mercury she knew that it would be a perfect fit for her mother. In the Schools of Hope program, Bonnie is paired with a third grade student and she helps her with reading twice a week for half an hour.

Bonnie enjoys being able to get out of the house and tutor kids in need of one-on-one reading assistance. Being able to help the kids is why she volunteers with Schools of Hope.  Bonnie Winters says, “I want to help people” and that is her main objective. The Schools of Hope program is trying to help reduce the number of students who are having trouble with reading, 44% of 2nd graders are reading at or below standard proficiency levels.

Schools of Hope is not only helping the grade school students in the Manhattan area further their reading skills but is also benefiting the volunteers. Bonnie gets to do something she is passionate about, helping children. Volunteers, like Bonnie, are able to help the student gain communication skills and self-confidence.