Cape May Kiwanis Club

Program Contacts & Information  
Toe by Toe Reading Remediation Program

Location: Various

This program gives people with reading difficulties the ability to read. More than 500,000 people with reading difficulties - children, adolescents, adults - have all greatly improved their reading ability and decoding skills thanks to Toe By Toe.

Even though the steps taken are small, students and their tutors can clearly measure progress right from the first page.  Not only are reading skills and comprehension greatly improved, but confidence and self-esteem grow in equal measure.

Pictured Right: On Wednesday evening, June 20, 2018, Kathy Finley shared the success stories from the new program "Toe by Toe". Family, students, teachers, and Kiwanis Club Members had the opportunity to learn more about the program.


Toe by Toe Reading Remediation Program


Third Graders’ Better Reading Is Target of Cape May Kiwanians

CAPE MAY – Cape May Kiwanis Club members are "trying to make a difference" in the lives of several third graders at Maud Abrams School by helping improve their reading skills.

Organized by Kiwanian Kathleen Finley, seven tutors are using a book called "Toe by Toe," which provides easy-to-follow instructions for phonetically teaching reading skills.

"It's called 'Toe by Toe' because that's the smallest increment, and even a small improvement in the ability to read can make a big difference in a child's life," Finley said. "The book can be used to help a wide range of reading needs, from the need to get a little boost all the way to dyslexia, from eight-years-old to adult."

Finley, who spent 17 years teaching kindergarten and first grade and another 15 years as a reading specialist in Williamstown schools, understands how reading is the basis for everything in life.

She also understands how schools sometimes struggle to deliver services. She saw this reading remediation effort as a good way to match Kiwanians, "who care about their community" with school needs.

"I'm also related to the authors," she admitted. "They are teachers in England and found through their teaching experiences that about 20 percent of children have trouble reading. As a teacher, she would offer after-school tutoring to the children, and tried a variety of ways to help improve their reading skills. She figured it out, and her headmaster encouraged her to publish how she did it."

As the U.S. distributor of "Toe by Toe," Finley got support from the Kiwanis Club and then met with area elementary school principals offering to work with their students. Maud Abrams School Principal John King took her up on her offer.

"I wasn't familiar with 'Toe by Toe' before meeting with Kathleen, but after meeting with her, our school advisors and I liked what we heard," King said. "It also fit with one of our district goals, which is to increase community involvement with our programs.

"We also thought the volunteers were a good resource for our students to take advantage of in our community," added the principal, who is in his second year at Maud Abrams.

King said he liked the program's "intimate, one-on-one approach" because the students in the program respond well to it.

"The program is very structured, so it works very sequentially," he said. "The students can work at their own pace, which is less stressful for them. In addition, the volunteers have the flexibility in the program to work at the pace which works for the student, so they can proceed quickly or slowly as needed."

The tutors, three are Kiwanians and the others are spouses, are paired up so they spend two days a week each at the school, working with the children for about a half hour. 

Because the instructions are provided within the context of the work, Finley said it's a matter of reading and following directions for the adults.

"This supplements what our students are learning in the classroom," King noted, "which is an additional bonus. This program is not taking away from any classroom time."

"It's pretty easy to follow so a parent could do this at home," Finley added. "Sometimes parents like to keep their children occupied during the summer, so this could easily be built into your day.

The program recommends 30 minutes five days a week, but that can be a lot for some children, so it's very flexible. It can also be used if you are home-schooling your children. It can meet the needs of anyone."

"Sometimes when you bring a program like this into a school, there can be logistical challenges, which we did have along the way, but we worked it out," King said. "The volunteers have been incredible, and the students really look forward to working with the volunteers and some nice relationships have developed along the way.

"This is an awesome way to involve the community in helping with our students," he added.

Anyone interested in learning more about the "Toe by Toe" program may contact Kathleen Finley at


Kiwanian Kathleen Finley started a reading remediation program with a local elementary school as part of the club's community outreach programs.

Dawn Hynes works one-on-one with a third grader to improve reading skills.

Mary Notch is one of seven tutors who volunteer with third graders from Maud Abrams School to improve reading skills.

Mary Hendrie, a member of the Cape May Kiwanis Club, works with a third grader at Maud Abrams School to improve her reading skills.

Jim Fraatz, a member of the Cape May Kiwanis Club, follows an easy-to-use reading remediation program to help elementary school students with their reading skills.