STAIR (Start The Adventure In Reading) teaches reading to second graders from the Birmingham City Schools using volunteer tutors who work one-on-one with each child. Children come to STAIR two days each week and most have two tutors--one for each day at STAIR. The children are fed a healthy snack and meet with their tutors for 1-1 1/2 hours of instruction, with games, puzzles and other activities as rewards for hard work.
Our program started as a church mission at Independent Presbyterian Church in 2000 and became a non-profit 501 (c) (3) in 2005. We have grown to serve seven schools at sites around Birmingham with expectations of more growth next year.
Our Site Directors work with the reading coaches at the school to decide which children can benefit most from our one-on-one instruction. Tutors receive extensive training and are provided with all the supplies, curriculum, books, and learning tools needed to teach effectively.
HistoryThe year 2000 was designated as The Year of the Child by the Presbyterian Church USA. Jeanne Isaacs, former Director of Children’s Education at Independent Presbyterian Church (IPC) expressed interested in creating programming to celebrate and honor the Year of the Child. She wanted to establish programs on three levels: church, community, and international. Jeanne had long dreamed of creating programming for the children of the community so that they would have opportunities for after school activities. She noted that our children’s facilities at IPC were empty all week except for Wednesday evenings.
IPC member Caroline Polson, a teacher in the Birmingham City School System, told Jeanne that if she were going to do anything with these children it should be tutoring them in reading. She said that reading skills were the greatest weakness in the students she encountered in her teaching experience. Coincidentally a few weeks later Dr. Jim Carter, IPC pastor at that time, mentioned the STAIR reading program during a sermon. STAIR was founded in 1985 in New Orleans at St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church. Dr. Carter had also been pastor at this church leading to his familiarity with the program. Caroline’s interest was piqued. On Monday morning she called the New Orleans STAIR program and the rest is history.
The New Orleans STAIR director was extremely helpful and encouraging. She sent curriculum and worked with Caroline on the phone. Jeanne and Caroline decided to pursue the program for IPC. STAIR of Birmingham began in the fall of 2000. There were 12 students and 24 tutors. The first two schools served were Avondale Elementary and Whatley Elementary. Willie Mae Butler joined the team.
Our StaffAnna James, Executive Director
Evelyn Puckett, Program Director, Site Director for Hayes K-8 School
Alice Morgan, Executive Assistant
Lewanna Robinson, Student Coordinator, Independent Presbyterian Church
Alison Jenkins, Site Director for Avondale School at Avondale United Methodist Church
Ingrid Moore, Site Director for Barrett School at 45th Street Baptist Church
Ruthie Royster, Site Director for Councill School at Greater New Antioch Baptist Church
Diane Rencher, Site Director for Norwood School at the school, sponsored by St. Luke's Episcopal Church and the Norwood Resource Center
Shemarkus Johnson, Site Director for Oliver School at the YWCA of Central Alabama Woodlawn Resource Center.
William Colvin, Site Director for Washington K-8 School at Westminster Presbyterian Church
Board of DirectorsPresident Penney Hartline, Community Volunteer
Vice-President Kennon Walthall, President, PRA Government Services
Treasurer Gene Lewis, Retired, Royal Cup Coffee,
STAIR Tutor--IPC & Norwood
Laura Clarke Relationship Manager, BBVA Compass
Susan Clayton Associate Pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church,
Community Ministries, STAIR Tutor--IPC
Melodie Echols Executive Director, Norwood Resource Center
Maura Goodwyn Attorney, STAIR tutor-- IPC
Charles Grizzle (Chip) Attorney with Brasfield & Gorrie, STAIR Tutor--IPC
Jan Hughey Community Volunteer, STAIR Tutor--YWoodlawn
Lee E. Loder Retired/Community Organizer
Bryson Stephens General Manager of EBSCO Sign Group
Jeannette Watford STAIR Tutor Coordinator--Norwood
Bob Watson Self Employed--Net Connection, LLC.
Randall Woodfin Prosecutor for the City of Birmingham