pictured: Pre-K student tracing a circle for her vision screening
After nearly 40 years working as a teacher, reading specialist and principal, Cindy Patton knows children. She knows how they learn and how to get a four-year-old to focus. Now retired from the classroom, Cindy has found her way back to children by volunteering with United Way’s School Readiness program.
Cindy’s passion for early childhood education started when she saw the benefits of moving from half-day to full-day kindergarten and noticed how being introduced to reading and writing at an early age can springboard a childs’ education. Thanks to funding from United Way, during her time as a principal and reading specialist, Cindy hosted workshops with pre-schools, teachers and providers, so they could work together to ensure that all children in the area were introduced to writing, reading and science before first grade.
After retiring, Cindy missed the students and her time in the classroom. Already familiar with United Way, she found the perfect volunteer opportunity in the School Readiness program’s vision screening service. Cindy and other volunteer teaching retirees visit schools to perform vision screenings, which may not be suggested by a primary physician until a child is in first grade.
“Being able to see is a critical element to learning. If a child cannot tell the difference between a ‘c’ and an ‘e,’ that’s big problem,” Cindy said. “Because the volunteers on my team have all worked with children before, we know the drill and absolutely love getting our ‘kid fix!’”
If a child fails their vision screening, a recommendation is sent to the teacher who contacts parents and suggests they schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist.
To learn more about United Way’s School Readiness program, visit unitedway4u.org/school-readiness.