I’ve fallen in love.
As many of you know, I’m a former teacher. I love working with kids, sparking their imaginations, and sharing with them the rich experiences the world has to offer. A few years ago I stopped teaching to focus on my writing full time. It was a good decision and the best one for me, but I’ll be honest: I’ve missed my kids, my classroom, my teaching.
Last summer I saw on the national news a story about a tutoring program in Chicago. It was the inspiring sort of education story that always makes me cry. In it, regular people committed to helping kids in Chicago schools further develop their reading skills. Kids flourished under the one-on-one attention and fell in love with learning.
I immediately jumped online to see if my city had a similar program I might participate in. That’s when I discovered Albuquerque Reads.
The program started ten years ago and is based on the successful Ohio Reads. Albuquerque Reads provides one-on-one tutoring three times a week for Kindergarteners in low-income schools with low reading scores. The hope is the focused attention will get these young readers up to speed.
And has it ever. Before Albuquerque Reads, 38% of kids at Atrisco, Belair, and Wherry Elementary schools scored at or above the expected reading level. And now? 96% score at or above reading level. Of those kids, 85% of them are above reading level.
Watch out, world!
I can’t express how meaningful this program already is to me. I have such respect for these little ones, many whose second language is English and are learning to conquer the challenges of dual-language acquisition while learning the routines of a classroom. I love this city, my hometown, warts and all. There are many amazing things about this place, but there are downsides, too. We rank close to the bottom in education scores. We have problems with poverty and crime. This program has the potential to change so much, from these young, eager children’s school careers* to their quality of life and the betterment of our community at large.**
Albuquerque Reads has graciously agreed to partner with me next January 14 at my May B. launch party. Alamosa Bookstore is donating $100 to the program. I am, too. My hope is everyone attending will consider giving a dollar to this remarkable program making such a difference in the lives of children across my beloved city.
*Children not reading at level in first grade are three times less likely to graduate.
**85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems.