Reading Volunteers Honored

Reading Volunteers and SIMHS staff at the Honor Luncheon

More than 100 of the Society’s School Reading Volunteers were recognized for their dedication to children and their hard work as tutors at our gala Honor Luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn o-in June. School principals and local community leaders joined SIMHS administrators and staff in paying tribute to the volunteers.

Last year, our corps of school reading volunteers donated 17,000 hours tutoring more than 650 children at most of the borough’s public elementary schools.

Following introductions by School Reading Volunteer Co-Coordinator Maryann Striffolino and remarks by SIMHS President/CEO Fern Zagor, guests were entertained and enlightened by children’s book author Angela O’Toole, a fifth grade teacher at PS 30. Ms. O’Toole related the story of her four-year old dachshund Nathan, who was bullied by other dogs in their neighborhood. How Nathan overcame this challenge inspired her to write “From Zero to Hero,” she said. The book was illustrated by Ms. O’Toole’s former student Bianca Truncall.

“From Zero to Hero” teaches kids how to deal with bullying, she explained. “Bullying can happen to anyone, even a dog, so hopefully if my book connects with one or two kids and changes their ways and their views to encourage tolerance, I’ve done my job.” Autographed copies of the book were made available for sale to luncheon guests.

The author also shared her views about the importance of reading for every child’s academic and moral development. Ms. O’Toole’s second children’s book, which addresses overcoming school anxiety, will be published in the fall.

Concluding the luncheon, reading volunteers who have served for 10 or more years received “thank-you” plants.

The next free training classes for SIMHS School Reading Volunteers will be held in October. New volunteers are required to attend the two-day, four-hour training, which is taught by a professional reading specialist. Reading volunteers must be high school graduates, be in good health, and possess patience, understanding, and concern for the welfare of children.

For more information, call or e-mail Ms. Striffolino at (718) 442-2225, Ext. 304; or e-mail