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April 7, 2016

Volunteering has been one of the most rewarding experiences

By: Rachel Cushing, volunteer reading partner in Charleston, SC

I have always had a natural love for reading and writing, ever since I was a little girl. I thought volunteering with Reading Partners would be a unique opportunity to explore and share this passion with a child. Not only is reading a fundamental skill that is imperative to learning and education (and later in life — career success), it’s just plain enjoyable!

As a first-year tutor, I had no idea what to expect. I was so nervous meeting Kevin for our first session. We instantly clicked, and I got to know my fifth grade student more with each session. I found out Kevin loves skateboarding, playing video games, and listening to tunes on his camo headphones. He is also hilarious and keeps the sessions light and fun. He especially loves stories involving sports, animals, or magic.  

One of my favorite moments was going over the word “nuisance” in his wondrous words journal. I defined and explained the word to him and asked him to come up with a sentence using the word. He wrote “My brother is a nuisance.” Hysterical, plus I was so proud of him because he truly understood the word and could use it in a real-life scenario. He never fails to crack me up. We have also been working on putting “oomph” into sentences where we see an exclamation point. He found it entertaining when I put extra, and I mean, a lot of emphasis on those sentences in our read-alouds. It seems silly … but it works!

While Kevin struggled with the fundamentals of reading and fluency at first, I am beginning to notice drastic improvements every week as we get into the increasingly difficult curriculum. It is the best feeling in the world knowing you’re making a difference in the life of a young person! I think Kevin will take middle school by storm next year with his new-found reading skills.

Celebrate National Volunteer Week with Reading Partners! Share your story of volunteering on our website or use #ProudReadingPartner on social media.

Read more stories on our blog.

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