The Washington Reading Corps focuses on improving literacy rates in K-6 students who are reading below their grade level by engaging them in one-on-one and small-group tutoring sessions during the school year. By the end of the year, many of these students have increased their literacy skills by at least one grade.
Story submitted by Julie Grant, WRC AmeriCorps member serving at Island View Elementary
(*Student’s name has been changed to protect their anonymity.)
Amy* is a shy, unassuming first grader in a reading group of three first graders. She is quiet, courteous and polite. When I first began as her reading instructor in October, I found a young girl who preferred to fade into the background and disappear. She possessed very little confidence and it was difficult to elicit answers and responses from her. She was reluctant to make eye contact and could barely register a whisper when reading aloud. She was so afraid of making a mistake that she wouldn’t decode words out loud for fear of embarrassment.
As the school year has progressed, I have gradually but consistently seen Amy grow as a reader in tremendous ways. These ways are not always ones that can be documented with our various measures of progress, although she has gained by those standards [as well]. What we cannot measure, but what we can experience in someone’s presence, is a true joy of reading. What I have seen emerge in her is that she is now an enthusiastic reader. There is a light that has been ignited within her that I believe will not be easily extinguished!
Amy frequently comes into our noon Eagle’s Nest in the library, a time that students can work on homework and our reading students can read to a volunteer or an instructor. Amy was at first resistant to attending Eagle’s Nest, but now is happily spending her lunch recess there. Once she finishes her reading group book, she will excitedly find another book to read. And as she is reading more, she has become much more confident in her reading, and her fluency has dramatically increased. Where once, only a short time ago, she was barely whispering the words she was struggling to comprehend, now she is fully engaged and expressively reading words. There is a spark in her eyes. A reader has been born!