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February 19, 2015

Ying and Yang's story

Our tutors in New York are phenomenal–not just because they are patient, committed, and intelligent, but because they go above and beyond for their students. Ying is one of those tutors. She started tutoring with Reading Partners New York City in October 2013.

Before moving to the US, Ying worked as a teacher in China. She believes that children can do anything with the right encouragement and the right tools for success. Her passion for education and her tutoring skills shine when she works with Yang, a third grader who speaks Mandarin as her first language.

Regional Coordinator Serena says, “Like so many second generation English Language Learners, Yang frequently missed out on critical learning opportunities in the classroom, struggling with both in-class and homework assignments, and additionally having trouble communicating with her peers. We knew Yang would benefit greatly from one-on-one tutoring.”

Yang and her family moved to the US from Chang Sha, China last September and the language barrier has been a difficult adjustment. Ying and Yang work together every Tuesday and Thursday to help her build English literacy skills.

Striking a perfect balance

Ying says that having the same native language better equips her to tutor Yang.

I understand what she’s going through, and learn a lot from her positivity and willingness to make mistakes.

Yang tackles her challenges with exuberance, by jumping into the tutor read aloud to try difficult words and by making up her own stories. The one-on-one tutoring allows Ying to cater to Yang’s unique learning needs and to teach her skills at her reading level. Ying encourages her by sitting on a shorter chair in order to be on her eye level, saying that she “doesn’t want to be another scary adult.”

Ying supports Yang’s learning by traveling to a number of the ninety-one branches of the New York Public Library to find books they will both enjoy. She finds books that spark an emotional attachment and are on the right level for Yang. This week, they are reading the Thankful book, about being thankful for the good things in life. Ying encourages Yang to bring books home and when she stumbles across an unfamiliar word she and her parents go to the dictionary together.

Yang is not the only one benefitting from their time spent together. Ying says that she enjoys coming to work with Yang at the reading center. “The kids in the hallways have faces full of love. Teaching them to read helps nurture their curiosity about life and helps to remind me of the things I’ve forgotten,” she says.

Our centers are packed full of wonderful pairs like Ying and Yang, and our students’ growth would not be possible without the dedication of our volunteer reading partners.

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