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December 20, 2017

Students who inspire us

One of the many benefits of being involved with Reading Partners, whether you are a volunteer, AmeriCorps member, or full-time employee, is working with wonderful students. I asked a few Reading Partners AmeriCorps members and staff to share some stories of students who inspire them, to remind us of the many ways in which our incredible students inspire us every day.

Students are willing to challenge themselves and continuously strive to reach new goals

Many Reading Partners students inspire us because of their willingness to challenge themselves and set meaningful goals. For example, some students talk about what they want to be when they grow older. One site coordinator said that one of her students, during her introductory “Lesson Zero” activity, told her tutor that she also wanted to be a site coordinator one day. Another student is in the Emerging Readers curriculum, but, “when he does book reports for Take Reading Home, he always takes beginning readers book reports. He is always trying to challenge himself, even when it’s way tougher. He hated reading when he started, and now he always goes for the hard books and tries his hardest.”

Students can be tenacious and don’t give up easily

Other students inspire us because of the progress they make with their tutors in the reading center. One regional site coordinator talked about a first grader last year who was “so new to school that he wasn’t even able to identify the letters in his own name.” Thanks to the slow but consistent progress of the student and his tutor, he now “knows 22 letters so far this year and continues to work hard with a positive attitude. Every time I see this student, he inspires me to always remember how much can happen when you keep trying.”

Students have pride in their successes, and aren’t afraid to celebrate big (and small) wins

Some students inspire us because of their increase in confidence, progress in school, and enthusiasm for learning. Last year, a Reading Partners staff member tutored a third grade student who was reading at a first grade level. “He was pretty quiet at first,” she said, “but was willing to come to Reading Partners and participate in the lesson. After a few sessions together, I noticed his getting a little more excited about coming in and doing the lessons.”

She had talked to his teacher beforehand and knew that this student was much farther behind in reading than his peers, and he was self-conscious about his reading abilities. He was anxious about reading in front of peers, but, “each time he came to the reading center, he was excited for the challenge and would tell me how happy he was to have a reading ‘buddy’ to work with.” This Reading Partners staff member thought it was “incredible to watch him use his time in Reading Partners to work on his skills.” For this student, the reading center was a place where it was okay to make mistakes, learn at his own pace, and succeed.

In just three months, this student had doubled his rate of learning. “He was so proud of his time in Reading Partners,” said this staff member, “that he begged his mom to come meet me the last day of school so that I could tell her how hard he had worked. Watching him show his mom around the center and all the books he read was the best way to end the school year and be inspired to come back and motivate more students to love reading.”

Whether our students are making progress by bringing back book reports or getting more confident in how to say the letters, they inspire us every day to be better tutors, mentors, and learners.

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