Public Education Initiative (PEI) F. A. Q. (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is PEI?

PEI is a volunteer program focusing mostly on literacy enrichment in Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) schools. There are opportunities for homework help as well.

How does the program work?

Volunteers are matched up one to one with students in grades K - 9 in CMSD schools, and meet with their students for a minimum of one hour per week during the school year. In most cases, the volunteer works with the same student every week.

Which schools are involved?

Eight sites are served by PEI:  Bolton Elementary School, Buhrer School, Case Elementary School, E-Prep, Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy, MC2STEM High School, Miles Park, and Harvey Rice.

The schools are located near the Cleveland Clinic, Midtown, The Great Lakes Science Center, Union-Miles, Tremont and the Near West Side.

Where do I meet with my student?

Volunteers meet with the students at the schools, during school hours.

Can I choose when I will meet with my student?

You can request certain times / days on your registration form. After an intake meeting with our staff, we do our best to accommodate your schedule. Once you have an assigned day and time, we ask that you commit to that time for the duration of the program.

What if I need to miss a day?

If you need to miss a session, you contact the site coordinator as soon as you know so that someone can substitute for you, and so that your student knows not to expect you.

I travel to Florida or Arizona (or another warm spot!) for the winter. Can I still volunteer?

No. Unfortunately you cannot. Volunteers must commit to being present for the entire program from late fall through May.

Do I need to have teaching experience?

No. If you can read, you can help a child read! All volunteers participate in a training session in the Fall, and PEI provides ongoing “professional development” opportunities throughout the school year.

What will I do while I am volunteering?

You will be assigned to one or two students depending on the age of the children, meeting with one student for the whole time, or two children for 30 minutes each. You will split your time reading to your student and having your student read to you. You may do some writing or spelling work, or even some drawing. You will model reading fluency, help with reading comprehension, bolster self-esteem, assist in pronunciation and vocabulary and provide much needed one-on-one attention to your student. The best part is that you have the chance to nurture a relationship with your student.

Is there a minimum age requirement?

Our volunteers range in age from 16 - 90+. You must be available during school hours, and you must provide your own transportation.

How can I sign up?

Fill out the form on our website, and we’ll take it from there!

If you have further questions, please contact Jessica Bell Semel, PEI Director, at 216-593-2874 or