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January 25, 2016

University of Washington students empower young readers in Seattle

It’s a typical rainy Seattle Tuesday morning, but inside the reading center, it is all sunshine and giggles as two students work together. The first student is a kindergartener who is just learning the letter “T”. The second student is a junior at the University of Washington, who is just learning to teach.

“Alright, Marcus what letter is this?” Service learning student Hannah Leach quizzes, holding up a flash card.

“T!” the young student confidently exclaims.

Today, Marcus* has conquered the letter “T” and Hannah has become a teacher. This is only the very beginning of what these two students will accomplish by working together.

“The best thing about being a reading partner is seeing my student engage for the first time, and being able to use my experiences to help him learn,” Hannah said.

Through a partnership with the University of Washington’s Carlson Center for Service Learning, Seattle’s university students have empowered elementary students with strong literacy skills while receiving valuable teaching experience.

This year, Reading Partners Seattle has already had the opportunity to work with eight outstanding service learning students. The elementary-university duos read, learn, and even sometimes sing together in an incredible partnership driven by the shared mission to learn.

Sara Geliebter, an AmeriCorps site coordinator for Reading Partners Seattle, has worked with six of the eight service learning students in Seattle this year and hopes to see the program grow in the future.

“I believe the University of Washington service learning students are an essential part to Reading Partners. They understand the flow of the curriculum and how to make lessons fun and engaging for the students,” Sara said.

Following Reading Partners’ research-based curriculum, Hannah and Marcus work together for 45 minutes twice every week. Every Tuesday and Thursday Hannah helps Marcus check another letter off his list.  

Being a reading partner has given me a new experience; I have already found myself reflecting  on my time with my reading partner and using what I learned.

Hannah believes that Reading Partners is not only an organization for someone who has a passion for reading, but also is an organization for someone with a passion for helping children learn.


*Student’s name has been changed for confidentiality.

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