Give the gift of literacy to a child.

Our free, after-school, one-on-one tutoring program in the South End of Albany is called the Wizard’s Wardrobe and ended its first full year of tutoring in June. We are now getting ready to start the 2018-2019 school year. And we need more tutors.

This past year was a successful one. Most of the children gained more than a year’s growth academically. One first grader went from a beginning kindergarten reading level all the way up to an ending first grader level. We were all excited by his progress.

In school, you spend the first three years learning to read. After that you read to learn. Our goal at Wizard’s Wardrobe is to help every child who comes to us be able to read on grade level by the end of third grade. They will then be poised to succeed in the school years that lie ahead.

We have learned a lot in our 1 ½ years of tutoring. We went from concentrating on reading and writing skills to this year adding problem solving skills in the form of a Challenge of the Month. These STEM-related activities could be designing and building a bridge made out of linguine that is able to hold the weight of a match box car to building the blades of a windmill that when turned by a fan could raise a cup with pennies in it. The children were quite excited by these challenges.

We also published our first book of the children’s writing! The looks of amazement were wonderful to see when we handed them out at the end of the year. Thanks to a grant from the Presbyterian Women’s Thank Offering, we were able to purchase the equipment to do our own publishing. I think this coming year’s book will be even bigger now that the students know what to expect.

This year we are also adding two “Creative Activities” weeks that will result in some sort of presentation or production for their parents based on a book that they will pick. Working in small groups, we will emphasize collaboration with this project.

So, would you like to join us and help change the future of a child and our country? In order to survive, Democracy needs people who can read and think.

We offer a two-day training, three times during the school year. One is coming up this Saturday and next, Sept. 15th & 22nd.  We go from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM.

The next one will be Nov. 10th & 17th. The third one is Jan. 12th & 19th. We are located at 20 Rensselaer Street in Albany. For more information, call Debbie Fagans at 518-776-0664.

In addition to this training, we hold monthly supplemental trainings on subjects that interest and support the tutors.


Debra Fagans is temporarily filling in the position of Volunteer Executive Director of the South End Neighborhood Tutors (known as the Wizard’s Wardrobe to those who are truly cool) until a real one can be magically found. A non-ruling elder (or is that unruly?) at First Presbyterian Church, Albany, she has a background in education and taught elementary school in PA and NJ. She also worked as Program Coordinator for Literacy Volunteers and trained adults to teach adults in Troy.

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