Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to have a background or a degree in education!

Absolutely not! All you need is a servant’s spirit and a willing heart! We will train you how to use a basic sight word list. We welcome any volunteer over 18 years of age.

What are sight words?

Sight words are often referred to as high-frequency words because they occur so often in text. Educator, Dr. Edward Fry, identified 1,000 words that occur most frequently in text that students must recognize ON SIGHT in order to build reading fluency. Fluent reading is critical for reading comprehension. The Fry Words are divided into 10 levels of 100 words each, and these levels represent words from Kindergarten to early high school. To show how important these words are, the first 300 words represent about 67% of all the words students will encounter in their reading.

Why focus on fry words?

The National Institute for Literacy states, “Having a bank of sight words releases a reader’s attention needed for comprehension and for figuring out more difficult and less frequent words.” In other words, more brain cells are freed up for other aspects of reading.

What about phonics!

The ARISE2Read program is not focused on teaching phonics.  The majority of the words on the Fry Sight Word list are phonetically irregular words, meaning that students will not to be able to “sound out” many of the words on the list.  You can not teach a student to sound out words like through, thought or because.  The ARISE2Read program strives to assist the student in building their automatic recognition and application of the sight words in context. A study by Shelby County Schools (SCS) showed second-graders who received one-on-one coaching support for just one-hour a week gained nearly twice as many sight words in a year as students who received no coaching. The protocol utilized by ARISE2Read is approved by the Shelby County School Board. We need YOU to help see it implemented in our schools.

How much time does it take?

Volunteers serve one-hour, once-a-week during the school day from mid-September to early April. We follow the calendars of the school districts we support, which includes holidays, testing days, and field trips.


The most essential element is finding faithful, committed, and FLEXIBLE volunteers!

When can I coach/tutor?

Schedules vary by school, however opportunities to coach are available during school-hours on regular school days.  ARISE2Read collaborates with the administrative team at each school to set a structured schedule to minimize interruptions to instruction. A designated coaching space within the school is also identified for students and volunteers to use together at each school so volunteers and students are never working in isolation. 


Volunteers commit to serving one-hour a week, working with two students, one each for 30-minutes. Volunteers work with the same two students every week and as a result, powerful relationships form between students and their volunteers, which supports the social/emotional growth of the children.


Your weekly visit will begin with arriving about 10 minutes before your scheduled coaching time.  Volunteers are required to check-in at the school office and then go to the designated coaching space. You will get the file folders for both of your students as well as a coaching box.  These items will include everything you need to work with each of your students.  You will review the Fry Sight Word list in each folder to see where the student left-off at their last coaching session.  Most of our schools have a volunteer Head Coach or Captain to support the program at each school.  This volunteer will pick-up the students to be served during the first half hour.  Volunteers begin by greeting their students, then following the protocol outlined in our training. The Head Coach or Captain will keep track of the time for you and you finish the session praising your student for a job well done! The Head Coach or Captain will return the students to their classroom and return with the students for the second half hour. You will repeat this routine each time you volunteer.


All volunteers MUST ATTEND an ARISE2Read training session and complete a background check per school board policy. Check out our Get Involved page to learn about training dates and locations or email Christi Shaeffer.


Our trainings are about an hour long. Each district ARISE2Read serves has specific policies about volunteer service that we strictly adhere to.  During the training, you will also learn about the required background checks. All volunteers must have approved background checks prior to working with students. First-time volunteers serving in a Shelby County School must complete a background check with fingerprinting.  Once these steps are completed, volunteers serving in Shelby County Schools will be required to renew their volunteer application online annually. No previous background checks or fingerprinting are considered valid for any of the school districts we serve.