Former Tozer Primary student says volunteer program helped him become a teacher | MyWindsorNow.com
Emily Wenger
ewemger@mywindsornow.com

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Former Tozer Primary student says volunteer program helped him become a teacher

Drew Gallagher remembers struggling with reading when he was a student at Tozer Primary.

A recent graduate from the University of Wyoming, Gallagher is now preparing to become a second grade teacher in Sheridan, Wyo., and said the Accelerated Reading program at Tozer Primary helped him on his journey from student to teacher.

While the 22-year-old cannot remember every detail of his time at Tozer, he does remember needing to join the Accelerated Reading program.

"I just remember that I was kind of reading a little bit below where they wanted me to be at," Gallagher said.

So Gallagher began working with a volunteer, William Anthony, to improve his reading skills.

Anthony, who since has died, was one of the many volunteers who have served in the reading program. Laurie Purdy, a literacy specialist at Tozer, has organized the program for the past 16 years.

"I remember in first grade going and working with Mr. Anthony and Miss Purdy and just kind of reading with them," Gallagher said.

Many students – around 300 in the past 16 years – have also worked with volunteers at Tozer to improve their reading. Purdy, who will be retiring after 27 years in the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District this year, hosted a volunteer reunion and thank you event this past Friday. After teaching for 35 years and working in Oklahoma, at Skyview Elementary, Mountain View Elementary and Tozer, Purdy said she has come to appreciate the affect volunteers can have on students.

"Just think about the impact," she said.

Purdy said she wanted to recognize all the volunteers' hard work — many worked with students one-on-one twice a week for several years ­— and allow the students they worked with to present the volunteers with colorful drawings and thank-you cards, many done in crayon.

Graduating from that program is also a moment Gallagher can remember, and he said working with Anthony and Purdy helped him become a teacher.

"Just being able to get in there and work one on one with them really helped me to want to be a teacher," he said. "And kind of guide me down the path of wanting to work with young students as well and just help them to grow as a student and a person."

Parents who attended the event also thanked volunteers. One parent, Rachel Daly, said her son, 6-year-old Xavier Gallegos, was two reading levels behind when he started the Accelerated Reading program. Through the help of volunteers, Daly said, Gallegos is now one reading level ahead.

"It's been really helpful and amazing," Daly said.

Purdy said the program will continue after she leaves, although she may be back to volunteer to read books to students.

"There's nothing better than an adult, a child and a book," she said.

Volunteering at Tozer

To volunteer at Tozer Primary, call the office 970-686-8400 and the office staff will direct callers to Kelsey Emery, the new literacy teacher at Tozer.