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October 1, 2019

Meet Lisa Bracken of Reading Partners North Texas in Central Dallas

Originally posted on Voyage Dallas.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Bracken.

Lisa, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My path to Reading Partners began by realizing the stark reality of educational inequity when teaching just out of college. The divide is deep and wide, and I work to help close the gap by providing access to low-income students with quality books and reading opportunities. Reading is a great equalizer to creating thriving and healthy communities where every child deserves quality educational experiences. It’s a non-stop mission, but I can sleep knowing we are fighting for children.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Like many, my path has not been linear but filled with bumps, twists, and sometimes mountains. I could not have predicted how my journey would have turned out 20 years ago (or what the next 20 will hold). Sometimes, the ascent up the hill to what you believe in leaves you with sore muscles and fatigue but, then, that aha happens when you see a child who has learned to read for the first time. That’s a pretty big deal. Our job is not to cure cancer but perhaps one day, our students sure might. I love hearing the success of the student’s we serve. That takes my journey to a full circle.

Please tell us about Reading Partners North Texas.
Reading Partners has a simple concept with extraordinary results. Together with our schools, Reading Partners focuses on students who are behind in reading in grades kindergarten – third grade. We harness the power of community volunteers to provide individualized instruction to help students master the reading fundamentals they need to reach grade level.

The community volunteers and AmeriCorps members who come to our schools are game-changers. They often say they get more out of the program than our kids do, and they are the life-blood of our program. One of the favorite parts of my job is getting to know our volunteers and hear their personal and moving stories on what makes them serve. They include doctors, lawyers, police, retirees, and high school students. We have faithful volunteers who have been with us for seven years. They are our heroes turning a struggling reader into a confident reader and changing odds.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
One of my favorite childhood memory involves Mrs. Deputy, my fourth-grade science teacher. We did not-the-typical science experiments by collecting our own pond water and growing smelly (and weird at the time) things in the water like paramecium and amoebas. I thought the microscope was the coolest thing, and when my twin girls were small, I bought them one with glass slides to check out found objects from around our house and neighborhood. Mrs. Deputy helped instill in me a fascination for learning and getting outside of my four walls. Teachers really do change lives.

Contact Info:

We would love to invite readers to become volunteers. This year we are aiming for just over 1,000 volunteers!

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