Project Description

O.T.T.E.R. –  Older Teachers Teaching Early Readers

Volunteers for Community Impact (VCI) has a long and successful history of reaching at-risk or special needs children and creating educational success through caring older adult volunteers. The Foster Grandparent Program is our largest intergenerational program that matches seniors with children with special or exceptional needs.

One of our new programs for the 2020-21 school year is the OTTER program. OTTER (Older Teachers Teaching Early Readers) was originally created in the 2004-2005 school year as a demonstration project by VCI’s first Executive Director – Jane Watkins; and was funded by the Winter Park Health Foundation.

OTTER volunteers (ages 55+) were trained in child development, cultural consciousness, early childhood literacy, reading aloud techniques, and utilized preschool curriculums such as ELLM (Early Learning Literacy Model from the University of North Florida) or Scholastic’s Big Day for Pre-K. Originally OTTER was designed as a subset of FGP using FGP volunteers to deliver the OTTER curriculum.

Using Scholastic’s REAL: Read, Excel, Achieve, Lead, the Whole Book Approach, and Visual Thinking Strategies curriculum, our new OTTER program will offer volunteer opportunities to people over the age of 16, who wish to read to young pre-K students and instill in them a lifetime love of reading, by helping to instill literacy skills that will help young students succeed academically.

The OTTER Program will utilize best practices learned from our FGP program and our previous iteration of OTTER. We will provide an early intervention/prevention approach to literacy for this initiative, by engaging volunteers in pre-K and Early Head Start centers as well as virtual teleconferencing options (due to the COVID pandemic). If you are over the age of 16 and wish to share your love of reading and books with young children, please consider volunteering with OTTER.

Thank you for your interest in the OTTER program! Due to the challenging nature of this school year, we are temporarily pausing acceptance of new volunteer applications.

Please check back periodically. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

Sponsor a child and help them learn to read.

Your commitment for 12 monthly donations will help support children in the program by providing a book-of-the-month to them to read every month for a whole year! Help bring the magic of reading to pre-k children and grow into great future students!

$7 a month ($84) – provides for 3 children

$14 a month ($168) – provides for 6 children

$28 a month ($336) – provides for 12 children

Sponsor a Child


    For PreK, Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd Grade Students

Trained literacy volunteers conduct virtual home visits to help children:

  • Develop imagination, curiosity, and wonder through interactive read alouds
  • Develop reading comprehension skills
  • Increase vocabulary acquisition
  • Teach Visual Thinking Strategies and art appreciation
  • Develop active listening skills
  • Develop a lifelong love for books and reading


  • PreK, K, 1st, or 2nd Grade Students must reside in Orange County
  • Have access to a device that can support Zoom video conferencing
  • Complete a child registration and parent/guardian consent form at:
Sign-up Form


Natalie Rogers
Natalie RogersOTTER Program Coordinator
(407) 298-4180


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This program is funded in whole or in part by grants from the Citizens’ Commission on Children.