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Virginia Sheriffs' Institute
Supporting Virginia’s Sheriffs & Deputies

Newport News Sheriff’s Office (NNSO) was honored on October 23 for its commitment to helping school children with their reading skills. The NNSO was selected as the Life Enrichment Center’s (LEC) 2020 Partner of the Year.

The NNSO was approached in 2017 by Kevin Turpin, the center’s president and founder, about bringing literacy tutoring to the Peninsula for the first time. Sheriff Gabe Morgan understood how important it is for a child’s future to be able to read. Students with strong reading have a better chance at success – throughout school and in life.

When explaining the program to personnel, hands immediately went up to be part of this important effort. So, for the 2017-2018 school year, about a dozen NNSO personnel, including Sheriff Morgan, were trained and then made the weekly trip to McIntosh Elementary School, a Title I school, to work with kindergarteners and first-graders who were reading below their grade level.

Sworn and civilian employees arrive, get their assigned child from class, and then go to the school’s Literacy Lab, where they read aloud and read programs on computers.

Each year since then, deputies and civilian employees of the sheriff’s office head off to school. A second school, Hidenwood Elementary, is now part of the Literacy Tutoring program. Volunteering requires commitment to the kids. NNSO employees work with the children for one hour, one day a week for one school year. The effort was cut short in 2019-2020 because of the coronavirus.  

The Newport News Sheriff’s Office motto is “Committed to Making a Difference.”  Being literacy tutors is another tangible way to show that commitment The men and women of the Newport News Sheriff’s Office are to be commended for their extraordinary work in the community, said Mr. Turpin.

LEC officials say the partner schools report that the tutoring program is working.  Looking at test results over time, children who were at risk of poor literacy were catching up to their grade level by the time they reached third grade.  

The program at McIntosh and Hidenwood elementary schools is coordinated by the Newport News Public Schools and the Life Enrichment Center in Norfolk, which was formed in 2007 to improve literacy in the early grades in Title I schools.