Retired Ahwatukee Foothills residents looking to donate some of their free time to a worthy cause can sign up to make a difference in a child’s education.

The AARP Experience Corps is made up of residents 50 years and older who visit schools during a regular school day and tutor kids in reading who have fallen behind the rest of the class.

After an extensive training period where tutors are walked through a variety of topics, such as what goals need to be set and how to obtain them, as well as determining the nature of the issue, whether it be comprehension or fluency.

Phoenix resident Marilyn Pollard is entering her fourth year as an AARP Experience Corps tutor. As a former history teacher and lawyer, Pollard wanted to find an outlet where she could work in education and help kids along the way.

“After I retired, I did volunteer work with legal aid but I got tired of that so I tried to find something I wanted to do, something that involved teaching,” she said.

Last year, Pollard and one other tutor shared time at Kyrene de los Niños Elementary School. On Mondays and Tuesday, Pollard would have a 30-minute, one-on-one tutoring session with three students. On Thursdays and Fridays, her partner worked with the same students while the two collaborated on how best to advance their reading skills.

“One on one with kids is great, it’s what makes this program work,” Pollard said. “I read to them, they read to me and I help them read properly. We play reading games with them and improve fluency with their understanding.”

There are more than 50 volunteers from all over the Valley and the Tempe Experience Corps, which also has four Ahwatukee Foothills residents involved, has helped more than 1,250 students since 2006. They pledge their time between six different Tempe schools.

They are not trained to work with students who have a severe learning disability so, as Pollard puts it, “the students that I teach are students who are just slightly behind where they ought to be in reading comprehension and the goal is to bring them up to par or exceeding levels.” To help meet that goal they meet with the teachers as well as the school’s reading specialist.

An information session will be at 10:30 a.m. on July 24 at the city of Tempe Library, 3500 S. Rural Road. The session will be in the Connections Café on the ground level of the library. For more information and to RSVP, contact Lily Pierce at (480) 858-2460.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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