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April 7, 2016

Applying lesson material to everyday life

By: Tanya Toschi, volunteer reading partner in Seattle, WA

I retired six years ago after a long career in marketing. Since then, I have done various kinds of volunteer work. Last July, I stopped into a booth at my neighborhood summer street fair that was sponsored by Reading Partners. I learned about the program and the need for new volunteers to join their organization. In September, I began working at Beverly Park Elementary School with one student.

The Reading Partners program is very impressive, and the way they organize and plan the lessons and evaluations of students is the best program I have been associated with during my years of volunteer work. Their preparation work gives me the opportunity to maximize my time with my student and to assist him in many aspects of literacy. Their workshops are also full of great information that can be utilized to help volunteers do the best job possible with their students.

Once of the first things my student and I discussed, and continue to discuss on a regular basis, is the importance of reading, and the value to understand what you have read. We talk each week both before and at the end of the lesson about how understanding the lesson of the day relates to his own life, and the way his newfound knowledge and skills will help him throughout his life. Literacy affects everything we do in life. It is the foundation for life’s success. Teaching this to a child is very rewarding. Having the fortune to work with a student two times per week has allowed me to understand how he best works through his challenges so we can better target his learning skills. His weekly lessons and word net continue to get stronger the more we work together, and he is a real star when it comes to his story detail recall and vocabulary.

It’s been an honor to work with this program and assist a student to improve his reading skills in such a strong growth pattern. I plan to continue next year to hopefully assist other students improve their literacy and make them more prepared for all they will experience in the world moving forward.

Thanks to Tara Francis, my on site Reading Partners coordinator, for her help and direction in helping me succeed, and to the many Reading Partners associates who develop and prepare our weekly lessons that build the success of this program.

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

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