Welcome Mikel Luster!   Leave a comment

The WCSD VISTA program is happy to welcome our newest addition, Mikel Luster. Mikel will be supporting the Read & Succeed Incentive Book Program and the First Teacher Tutor Training Program during his service year. Mikel is a 2013 graduate of Reed High School’s Culinary Program, we can’t wait to try some of his gourmet cooking during the next Volunteer Services potluck in February 2016. We all wish Mikel a successful and fulfilling VISTA year!

VISTA Mikel Luster

VISTA Mikel Luster

Along with Mikel, the VISTA program is also excited to have VISTA Sandi Heying continue on with the program for a second service year. During her first VISTA year, Sandi has been perfecting our First Teacher Tutor Trainings for Community Volunteers that are held at the WCSD Board Room. Please click here to view the upcoming dates to train to be a Read & Succeed, Math Paths, &/or Elementary Writing/Word Sorts tutor. Contact VISTA Leader Tracy Sherwood if you are interested in attending a training at 775-348-0345 or tsherwood@washoeschools.net.  As Sandi continues her service, she will be working on sustainability to keep the trainings rolling after the end of our VISTA grant. Thanks to Sandi for all her hard work!

VISTA Sandi Heying

VISTA Sandi Heying

And, we say a heartfelt “Bon Voyage!” to VISTA Paul Landeg who has ended his VISTA service year. Paul played a huge part in helping Volunteer Services organize all of our supplies at the Freeport Warehouse and get the department settled into our space at Poplar Street. Paul also was invaluable to the Read & Succeed Incentive Book Program by delivering books to schools, picking up donated books, and delivering book donation barrels. He was definitely our “Jack- of- all- Trades!” Good luck to Paul in his next adventure.

VISTA Paul Landeg

WCSD College Saving’s Champion   Leave a comment

Call your WCSD College Saving’s Champion, Theresa Navarro at 775-560-1300, Tnavarro@washoeschools.net for full assistance or to answer questions in English or Spanish!  This includes all interested Nevada employees, friends and family and parents.


The Nevada Prepaid Tuition program is NOW open for enrollment, November 1-March 31. Prepaid Tuition allows you to lock in tomorrow’s in-state tuition at today’s prices. Enjoy peace of mind knowing that you’ve locked in today’s in-state rates!  And as with all 529 college savings plans, you can use the benefits at any institution that is eligible for federal student aid—not only in-state institutions.  Plans are available for newborns through 9th graders and offer a variety of educational options, including community college through university level plans.  Prices start as low as $38 per month with several payment plan options available.  Enroll by January 31st for a chance to win a free year of college tuition!*

Prepaid Tuition is just one of the college savings options offered through the Nevada State Treasurer’s Office to help make the dream of a college education a reality for your child.


The Nevada College Kick Start program ensures that Nevada kindergarten students know that college is an attainable goal.  This visionary program automatically establishes college savings accounts, with an initial deposit of $50, in the name of all Nevada public school kindergarten students.


With the SSGA Upromise 529 Plan, you can open an account for as little as $15 and then continue to make contributions as you choose.  Nevada residents pay no annual fees, and programs like the Silver State Matching Grant can help grow your account.


You can check out these and all of Nevada’s 529 College Saving’s Plan options at NV529.org or call you the WCSD College Saving’s Champion, Theresa Navarro at 775-560-1300, Tnavarro@washoeschools.net for full assistance or to answer questions in English or Spanish!  Again, this includes all interested Nevada employees, friends/family or parents.


*Visit NV529.ORG for contest rules and details.


Posted November 20, 2015 by WCSD Volunteers in WCSD Volunteers

What’s Happening at the WCSD VISTA Program?   Leave a comment

VISTAs are ready to facilitate and support Pre-K through 5th grade tutor training at your school or organization (church, community centre, etc.). We currently offer Pre-K to Kinder Math & Reading and 1st to 5th grade Read & Succeed, Math Paths, and Elementary Writing/Word Sorts tutor training to prepare community volunteers and families to support student success in the classroom and at home. The VISTAs will come to your site and  work with your date and time needs (morning, afternoon, evening, or even Saturdays!) to accommodate your volunteers and families, they will also bring take-home materials for all training participants.  Give Tracy a call 775-348-0345 or email tsherwood@washoeschools.net for more information.


The VISTA program is looking for new VISTAs to start in February 2016.  We are looking for people that are passionate about supporting student success through preparing community volunteers and family members to help in classrooms and in the homes.  VISTAs spend 35 hours a week for a year prepping materials for trainings, facilitating trainings, supporting trainings, attending events to promote trainings, and other tasks.  During their service year, VISTAs receive a $983 monthly stipend, some health benefits, work related mileage, and networking opportunities within the school district.  At the end of their completed service year, VISTAs receive a $5500 Segel Education Award to use towards tuition or education related debt.  If you know someone who would make a great VISTA, have them contact Tracy by phone 775-348-0345 or email tsherwood@washoeschools.net .

wcsdvolunteers blog is back!   Leave a comment

There have been some big changes at WCSD Volunteer Services since our last post.

The most notable change is that all of Volunteer Services is now located at 494 Poplar Street. It feels so good to all be in the same place. We have welcomed two new staff members: Laurie Bennett, Secretary, and Dex Thomas, Program Director. Volunteer Services is supporting a new AmeriCorps VISTA grant, with all new VISTAs, including VISTA Leader Tracy Sherwood. There is a Read & Succeed Incentive Book Program book donation book located at the office for convenient book donation drop offs. Our volunteer programs (CWEP, AARP, Light duty, Work Study) have welcomed a new addition, the CAT program. And, to top it all off, new landscaping generously donated by Patti Bernard and local area nurseries. We would love to have you stop by for a visit, to fill out your 2015-2016 Volunteer Application, or drop off some gently used or new Pre-K to Adult books in the new drop off box. Any questions about volunteering in the WCSD can easily be addressed by Laurie and her well-trained group of volunteers; so, give us a call at 775-348-0346 or email at volunteerservices@washoeschools.net !
You’ll be hearing from us, we want to hear from you!

WCSD Volunteer Services Weekly Update   Leave a comment


Think, Learn, Succeed

Thought this was interesting and may be helpful for you:




How to Make Learning Fun for Your Kids

Many kids today do not get involved in learning challenging educational subjects because they perceive it to be boring and time-consuming. You can change this perspective by adding little touches of fun to their learning journey. Wouldn’t it be nice if your child wanted to learn everyday even without your supervision?

Include Yourself in the Fun

One important step to make learning fun is to set a positive example for learning. Your kids would want to read a book if they see you reading one with enjoyment and consistency. You are your kids’ idol and whatever they see you do, they follow. Learn the alphabet or count numbers with them. Join them in their memorization of their favorite nursery song. By including yourself in the fun, learning is encouraged.

Involve Them in Educational Games

Learning does not have to be just hours of sitting, writing and reading. You can convert the lessons into games. The kids can pretend that they are word pirates in search for the alphabet treasure. They can join you in a game of scrabble or word factory. If you want to know what educational games are available for appropriate ages and genders, ask your family pediatrician or a child psychologist.

Integrate Competitions

If you have three kids in the family who are more or less on the same learning level, you can encourage them to compete. They could race for a chocolate ice cream treat by blurting out all the 5-letter words that they can remember. If siblings are not available, they have friendly competition with classmates or church pals. Not only do competitions make learning fun, they also encourage camaraderie.

Invest in Educational Toys and Gadgets

We can’t deny that the current world is full of technological advancements. They need to be educated with these gadgets as early as possible. For toys, there are those that deal with shapes, numbers, and letters. You could also let them play building blocks or clay to arouse their creativity. For gadgets, there are those that encourage interaction and sharpen thinking skills. Once your kids will get a hold of these items, it is almost guaranteed that they will not remove their hands from them ever again (you will need to place limits so that they do not become single focused).

Invite Kids to Watch Educational Shows

Do not allow your children to consume shallow TV shows or movies. Since they are at an age where they could easily pick up what they observe, it is best that you provide shows with positive influences. Avoid adult shows in the guise of kid’s cartoons because these just teach your kids rude manners, sexual innuendos, and violence. Educational shows encourage your children to move and explore different learning possibilities. Kid documentaries are good shows to pique a child’s curiosity. Always remember to first sift through the programs your children watch.

Learning is a perpetual process that even adults should experience on a daily basis. If you encourage your children immerse themselves in the process as early as possible, they will end up being wise persons in the future.



Volunteer Services Book Drives

The WCSD Volunteer Services book drive program, headed by VISTA Oliva Callison, has donated over 100,000.00 books to various schools throughout the Washoe County School District, in Reno, NV, which include:  the Women’s and Children’s Center, several churches, the Resource Center. and the Foster Grandparent’s program who also have volunteers that deliver our books to schools.

Our current book drives this month, Macy’s, RGJ, Grass Roots, Theater Works and Red Cross, all in Reno, NV.


Washoe County School District
Volunteer Services

If you are interested in volunteering for the WCSD please go to:  http://www.washoecountyschools.org/volunteering for call 775-348-0346.

WCSD Volunteer Services Weekly Update   Leave a comment

2014 Summer VISTA’s

This year we have twenty-five Summer VISTAs who will be working for nine weeks during the summer. The Summer VISTAs have been up and running at their assigned schools since June 16th  This year we had twenty-one schools request assistance with tutoring for struggling students and students in credit recovery. These requests included High Schools, Striving Readers Program. ESY, Zoom Program, and the Re-Engagement Center. We are also assisting with Registration the second half of July and August at fifteen schools at all levels of education. Some of the Summer VISTAs are also assisting at the Book Program on Fridays. The Summer VISTAs have been very busy and have been doing a great job thus far. There has been nothing but great things said about their abilities and the assistance they have given.By Christina M. Zuniga
Regents Academic Coordinator


From Superintendent’s Friday Minute

Recently, I had the opportunity to join Dale Erquiaga (Superintendent of Public Instruction) and Dan Klaich (Chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education) and participate in the Nevada Ready! Teacher Ambassador Training. Teacher Ambassadors are K-12 educators from throughout Nevada who are media trained and excited to discuss how the Nevada Academic Content Standards are working for Nevada students. The Ambassadors are a critical component of the Nevada Ready! Initiative since teachers are uniquely situated to help disseminate accurate information and answer questions from parents and the public. Nevada Ready! is led by the Nevada Department of Education and the Nevada State Board of Education, and is financially supported by the Nevada Public Education Foundation. It provides information to help educators, students, parents, guardians, community leaders, and others understand the standards of education adopted by the Department and Board. I encourage you to learn more by watching the Nevada Ready! video along with visiting their website, Twitter, and Facebook pages. Understanding how we are using education standards to ensure all our students are ready for success is important.

Next week, I look forward to participating in the Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI) summer conference. ERDI provides both educators and corporate partners the opportunity to establish personal relationships that will foster excellence in education through discussions and inspired creativity to address unmet needs in schools. At the conference, I will join seasoned superintendents from across the U.S. who are leading experts in the field of K-12 education. We will partake in panels where we will be providing candid insight, feedback, and suggestions to companies, helping them create the best solutions for our 21st century learners. It’s a chance for us to comment and shape what goes into the schools we serve.

With thanks for all you do for our children,

Tutor Training



Chili’s Fundraiser

Click on this link to see, print and take to the restaurant with you:  Chili’s Night 2

Or stop by Family School Partnerships at 535 E. Plumb Lane.

Happy Eating!


Washoe County School District
Volunteer Services

If you are interested in volunteering for the WCSD Volunteer Services, please go to:  http://www.washoecountyschools.org/volunteering or call 775-348-0346.

WCSD Volunteer Services Weekly Update   Leave a comment

Tutoring Games: Tips for Making Tutoring Fun

As students progress through school, certain subjects or lessons may prove to be especially tough. If your child needs extra help outside of the classroom, you may want to provide him or her with tutoring at home. No matter the topic, the activities below can be beneficial and enjoyable.

Should I Use Games When Tutoring?

Playing games with kids is a great way to help them practice academic skills, like math facts and phonics. Since games are often fun, interactive and colorful, kids may be more willing to play games than to complete worksheets and other activities. Tutoring is usually limited to one or two hours at a time, so it may be most effective to use games as a review after providing focused lessons and practice problems.

Three Fun Tutoring Activities


Start with a stack of 18 or 24 index cards, depending on how much information you want to cover in the lesson. Then, use a pair of cards to write down corresponding information, such as vocabulary words with matching definitions, states and capitals or math facts.

Flip all the cards face down and place them in three rows of six or eight. You and your child will take turns flipping over two cards at a time. If they match, the player takes both cards and another turn. If there’s no match, it’s the next player’s turn. Once all cards are gone, the player with the most wins.

Peer Review

Editing someone else’s work is great practice for understanding grammatical and structural errors. Just as teachers have students exchange papers for grading in the classroom, you and your child can exchange homework assignments for practice.

Spend 10-15 minutes responding to the same writing prompt. Then, exchange papers and review. If your son or daughter has errors, you can walk through the corrections with him or her. You should also take a look at how your child has corrected your work. If appropriate, you should make mistakes on purpose to see how your son or daughter corrects them.


While Jeopardy is a game, it’s also an effective review tool. If your child has an upcoming exam, this is a great activity to help him or her review. Create your own version of this game by using a poster board and index cards for the categories and questions. Because the game is point-based, it will work best if you’re able to find one or two other family members to participate. Once you’ve got the game set up, follow the same rules as the show. You can act as the moderator, reading questions and awarding points until the end. The player with the highest total is the winner.


Effective Math Tutoring Tips

The following tips are courtesy of Lower Columbia College’s Tutor Training Handbook, George Dennis, Supervisor.

Come prepared
Walking into a tutorial session prepared sends a clear, strong message to the students of the importance and pride you as a tutor place on the upcoming session. It is especially meaningful to follow up with the plan of action, objectives, and goals set during the last tutorial session.
To do this,   tutors model to the student a commitment and enthusiasm by coming prepared. Coming prepared includes:

  • Overcoming personal anxieties

  • Feeling comfortable with the subjects/material

  • Having a positive attitude and utilizing all available resources. \

Five basic steps for assisting math students

Step one:
Always look at the problem in the book. Never trust that a student has set it up correctly. 

Step two:
Ask student to explain the procedure s/he is using to solve the problem. You can troubleshoot and listen for erroneous logic or incorrect procedures at that time. 

Step three: 
Reinforce any correct procedures (e.g. “This part is done correctly”, or “You are target here”.) Then identify incorr4ect logic and ask the student to consider what else s/he might try. You can provide a hint, but avoid explanations until after the student has attempted a guess. (E.g. “When you evaluate an integral, what do you evaluate first, the upper or lower part?”)

Step four: 
To check for understanding have the student re-explain the procedure to you. Avoid asking questions like, “Does that make sense to you?” and “Do you under5stand now?” 

Step five: 
Encourage the student to work the next problem on his/her own, but let him/her know you will check back.  Do not get drawn into working the next problem with an insecure student.  S/he needs to develop the ability to apply what s/he is learning without your supervision.

Five tips for math tutors 

  1. Guide student:
    A math tutor should guide a student through the solution process. Ask the student leading questions that will direct the student towards the correct steps.

    Avoid doing problems for the student.

    If the student cannot get the correct answer and asks for help, the tutor should look at what the student has done and try to locate the error.  Then have the student work a similar problem to make sure he/she has grasped the concept or procedure.

  2. Teach Concepts
    Tutoring goal should be to help students become an independent learner. In mathematics, it is important to teach concepts rather than just processes or procedures.  For example, the tutor should explain why it is important to follow the “order of operations” rule, PEMDAS, rather than just showing the student how to do it.

    Understanding the concepts makes remembering the procedures easier.

  3. Encourage Students to Attend Class
    Some students believe getting help from a tutor  is a substitute for attending class. Students having difficulty in math must realize time spent with a tutor is additional to classroom time.

  4. Address Math Anxiety
    Tutors will deal with students with varying degrees of math anxiety. Tutors should avoid using phrases such as, “this is easy.”  Such phrases intimidate the student. If the student suffers from a high degree of math anxiety it may be helpful to refer the student to a counselor. Sometimes it is helpful to learn about the student’s math background. If the tutor believes the student is enrolled in a course the tutee is not ready for, talk to the instructor.

  5. Don’t Confuse the Student!
    If the tutor is unsure of a mathematical procedure or concept, check with a math instructor. It is helpful to find out what approach the text or instructor is using on a particular problem. A tutor using the same technique as the text or instructor will reinforce the concept or procedure, whereas using a different approach can confuse the student.

    Tutors are strongly encouraged to stay in touch with instructors of the students they work with.



Experience and Benefits of Tutoring

This is a video of several tutors voicing their experience and benefits of tutoring:



Washoe County School District
Volunteer Services

If you are interested in volunteering with the WCSD School District please go to:  http://www.washoecountyschools.org/volunteering or call 775-348-0346.



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