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April 7, 2016

Going beyond tutoring to help students in need

Laura White, volunteer reading partner in Seattle, WA

Laura White joined Reading Partners as a regular tutor at Sanislo Elementary in November 2014. Laura, one of Seattle’s first volunteers, has not only been a consistent tutor who exceeds the demands of our program, but also an instrumental and generous collaborator in improving our program. Because of her expertise, creativity, hard work, and generosity, Reading Partners has been able to better identify and meet the needs of the students in our burgeoning literacy program. 
 
For our program, Laura has been an invaluable innovator and collaborator. Reading Partners has three distinct evidence-based levels of curricula for literacy instruction, with each curriculum containing over 30 lessons. Laura, a former education professional, has lent her analytical eye to each and every lesson in our curricula, singlehandedly developing interactive materials to support our tutors and make our curriculum jump off the page for our students. Each week she arrives at Sanislo with binders stocked full of immaculately prepared interactive materials to support our tutors and the curricula. Today, over 150 tutors benefit from the use of the supplemental materials she has created, which we are now using at all four of our Seattle elementary schools. In the future, even more students will benefit from these materials as we intend to continue to use them as we expand to more schools in the Seattle region.
 
For her students, Laura has been an advocate and a true educator. Over the past four months alone, Laura has led over 50 tutoring sessions. She understands and has expressed many times that her consistency and reliability will allow her young students to transform socio-emotional barriers and develop trusting relationships.

There is no doubt her students also benefit from her educational expertise. The same level of creativity and innovation she has brought to our curriculum as a whole, she also brings to her individual students. Each week, she brings in more tools and supports as she identifies specific areas for growth in her students. One of her students, a first grader who entered our program reading behind grade-level, now confidently chooses to read second-grade reading texts on her own. It is not that these texts are now easy for this student; it is that Laura has given this student the proper tools and positive experiences to confront challenging readings with determination.
 
It is also worth mentioning that Laura has become a mentor for Reading Partners employees and tutors. Reading Partners tutors at Sanislo Elementary consistently look to her as a leader and a guide, to which she responds with humility and wisdom. All of this Laura has performed at a volunteer capacity, and for her hard work, she is the picture of consistency, generosity, graciousness, and collaboration.


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