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State Honoree

Tamara Ruffatto

Montana

Tamara Ruffatto, 18, of Brockton, Mont., a senior at Culbertson High School in Culbertson, created an in-school reading program for kindergartners and first-graders, and a "Breakfast Club" to tutor third-graders who have trouble with spelling. "When I was little, story time was part of every day and I developed a love for literature," Tamara said. "My enjoyment of reading led me to start my own reading and tutoring program."

For her reading program, Tamara first selects books to read and then develops complementary craft, art and drama projects to enhance the lunch-time reading sessions she conducts with kindergarten and first-grade students. During her early-morning Breakfast Club meetings for underachieving third-graders, Tamara works on spelling and vocabulary skills while her pupils eat breakfast. "I started this tutoring program for students who need an extra boost for success," she said, and her students' testing scores have, indeed, improved. Over the past four years, 88 schoolchildren have benefited from Tamara's two programs. But her volunteer activities don't end there. She also creates goodie baskets for the elderly, helps deliver vegetables and fruit from her family's garden to a senior citizens center, raises funds for missionaries serving in Madagascar, and makes cookies and coffee for voters on election days.