Germantown UMC invites other churches to utilize its elementary school tutoring program, 'Team Read'


Jackie Flaum of Germantown UMC dresses as Frenchie Fry Word, the mascot for a successful elementary school tutoring program. Submitted photo

CLICK HERE to see photos of students working with tutors from Germantown UMC.

A United Methodist church in Germantown, Tenn., is offering other churches access to resources and training for an elementary tutoring program, allowing congregations to benefit from its expertise.
Germantown UMC developed Team Read in partnership with education professionals at Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary School in north Memphis. Through the program, volunteers teach 1,000 foundational words to second graders while maintaining their own flexible schedules.
“Team Read proved enormously popular at church—[we had] 60-75 volunteers, called coaches, each year with very little turnover,” Jackie Flaum, Germantown UMC Team Read Head Coach, said.
In the program, volunteers donate one hour per week of their time from Labor Day until the end of April. They tutor two children for 30 minutes each, either during or after class. During that time, they go over “sight” words, or words children should recognize on sight.
So far, the project has been a major success. On average, Flaum said, tutored children learned 200 words per year, which got the attention of local educators. Last year, only two Team Reads existed, but now that number has grown.
“This year there are 16 schools with Team Reads and all but one are staffed by churches,” Flaum said. “Last August Germantown UMC offered training for volunteers and 100 people showed up for an all-day session. Many of those were from other churches that grew programs at their schools.”
The project actually has worked so well that the Shelby County School System urged its schools to adopt the program. The school system conducted a study showing that coached students learned nearly twice as many foundational words within the span of a year as other children their age.
In the wake of such results, Germantown UMC hopes to expand Team Read even more. Flaum said the church plans to promote it, offering a step-by-step marketing plan along with Coach Playbooks, which give details about the program, educational materials and training.
If churches want to get involved, the program’s promotional material says they should contact Shelby County Schools Community Engagement Specialist Barbara Dawson at 901-416-5732 or She can tell church members about training, background checks and schools in need of a team.
If people have any other questions about how to help children through Team Read, they may contact Flaum at