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February 19, 2015

Karen & Francisco's story: Gaining Literacy Skills and Self-esteem

Francisco was devastated. A new school year was beginning, but he wouldn’t be advancing to the next grade with his friends. “Before Reading Partners, I felt sad because I had to start second grade again,” said Francisco.

Working closely with his teachers, Reading Partners paired Francisco with Karen, an avid reader and writer who became a volunteer tutor in 2012 after a co-worker recommended the program to her.

Each week, Karen and Francisco worked on building his literacy skills. “I’d had some previous teaching experience with older students, but I’d never worked with younger kids, so I didn’t know how much fun they were,” says Karen. “The young kids are so enthusiastic, and you can see how happy they are when they’ve mastered a new skill. When I met Francisco, he seemed like he was the kid who was used to being a poor student, used to not understanding.”

As the year progressed, Francisco fell in love with reading and his reading skills became stronger. “I get to read! I get to learn how to read,” says Francisco. “I had tutors to help me read. I got to read every book in the box [of beginning readers curriculum].”

“I’ve volunteered with a lot of different organizations, and this one is relaxed but focused. I think this is because [site coordinator] Gloria has the classroom and lessons so well organized. The tutors know what to do, so we can really pay attention to what our student needs, and if we need help, Gloria’s right there.”

After a year of working with Karen, Francisco was reading at grade level and ready for the third grade. “Francisco went from being the kid who was shy and afraid to read in front of the other kids to being the kid who couldn’t wait to see what books I brought him,” she says. “In our year together, Francisco didn’t just learn to enjoy reading, he learned he could try something difficult and succeed at it.”

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