Highlighting Youth Voices In Their Own Words
Age: 17, 11th grade
Favorite Book: The Fault in Our Stars
Place I most want to visit:
Puerto Rico to see family
Career Aspirations: Nurse, specifically with babies
Most important quality in a student: Respect
Favorite Subjects: English & Math
I don't like to call Starling special, because all the students I work with are special, but he was always kind, respectful, engaged and excited to read. A lot of kids don't like reading at first because they are struggling, and it takes some time to connect with them. But Starling was always a fun and happy kid--that never changed, but his skills definitely improved.
I worked with Starling last year when he was in 1st grade, and he was very shy. I would joke with him, and we formed a great relationship. He was always smiling, but his first language was Spanish, and he had a hard time with English and with reading. He always worked very hard, though, and one day everything seemed to click. It seemed like he was almost instantly doing better, and sometimes he would finish two books in just one session.
It was great to see him improve, and this year he doesn't need the READ program anymore. His school-day teacher said he was so sad when she told him we wouldn't be reading together after school this year. But we are both in the same building after school, and he drops by most afternoons to say "hi" and give me a high-five.
Becoming a Lead Tutor
I knew I wanted to work for READ because I love working with kids. What I didn’t know was how effective the program would be—for the kids but also for me personally. I didn’t expect that becoming a Tutor would help me become a better student, too. I’ve improved a lot in school, and helping the younger students is motivating for me to read better myself. Especially now, as a Lead Tutor, I have a lot more responsibilities—and I love it. Instead of helping just one student, now I have to make sure a whole classroom of kids are learning.
I love engaging with all of the different students, and I’ve also learned how to supervise my group of tutors. I wasn’t used to speaking up and taking charge, but as a Lead Tutor I’ve practiced staying organized, being consistent, and engaging with the tutors as a leader. You have to make sure they’re not just tutoring, but tutoring correctly. But because of READ I’ve learned how to manage my peers and now I know how to be in control.
We rely on support from individuals to help us invest in tutors such as Amanda who provide critical intervention to stuents like Starling and leadership to their peers.