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February 22, 2017

15 years of service in the Silicon Valley

Pictured: Silicon Valley tutor Barbara Brennan and Selby Lane Site Coordinator Caila Parodi.

As the founding region of Reading Partners, Silicon Valley has had the privilege of witnessing the amazing growth of our program over the last 18 years. We have welcomed thousands of volunteers into our reading centers, expanded partnerships, and influenced the lives of countless young readers.

Reading Partners was founded as YES Reading in 1999, and the roots of Reading Partners’ three founders still remain strong in our community. One person who can speak to the lasting significance of our program is Silicon Valley’s longest-standing active tutor, Barbara Brennan. This year marks her 15th anniversary with the Reading Partners!

Barbara first learned about Reading Partners from her daughter, who suggested that she should get involved with tutoring to occupy some time in her schedule as a new retiree. At that time, the program was only operating at Belle Haven Elementary School in Menlo Park. When YES Reading expanded to Selby Lane Elementary in 2002, Barbara signed up to volunteer and has been tutoring there ever since.

Barbara recognizes the program has changed quite a bit since she first began volunteering. “When I started there was very little training and no set curriculum to follow. We had to figure things out on our own with a phonics book,” she says. “Today the program is so different. Reading Partners makes it easy to volunteer. The lesson plans are great and easy to follow. The kids like the program too—they don’t feel like they’re being dragged into it. They really want to be there and many want to get to know their tutor.” Barbara also cites the Take Reading Home program as one of the more exciting additions to Reading Partners in recent years. The idea of students building their own libraries at home adds to students’ excitement and extends learning outside the reading center.

One of Barbara’s favorite series to read with her students is anything by Dr. Seuss, and the students like them too! “There’s something about rhyming that catches their attention,” she says. After so many years of tutoring, Barbara she feels like she knows many of the books inside and out. She also likes seeing her students graduate to chapter books. “That’s exciting.”

Besides her love for Dr. Seuss books, there’s another important factor that keeps Barbara coming back to Selby Lane year after year: “I keep coming back because it’s important and worth doing,” she says. “I think education is one of the major foundations that can help close the disparity in society.”

Thank you, Barbara, for 15 years of volunteering and for tutoring over 600 hours with Reading Partners! As our organization continues to serve students across the country, we can certainly look forward to hearing more stories like Barbara’s. We still have 162 students waiting to be matched with tutors in the Silicon Valley. You can join Barbara in tutoring at one of 20 schools this year. Sign up today!

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