While spending my time at Homeless Families Foundation as a staff member I was very involved with the work that they do at their education enrichment and youth development center, The Dowd Education Center from the very first day I started. I am the program assistant working under the wing of the wonderful Erin Priest who is the Curriculum Coordinator. As the program assistant, I am involved with the students as well as getting in contact with people who volunteer at our center with the kids. At HFF we have a reading mentorship program which we have individuals come in and read with our students that we have paired up. For many of the children the issue is getting them reading on their grade-level because so many of these children may have gone through a lot of trauma in their lives which makes focusing on school that much harder. The main focus of having the reading mentors working with them is to improve the child’s reading skills.
Where I fall in place as the program assistant is that I pull all of the students lessons each week based on their reading level and also on what their reading mentor said about how the student read that week and whether they should be moved up a level because it is just too easy for them or that they are struggling and need to be moved down to best meet the child’s needs. I pull about 30-40 books each week for the students to have a new lesson and new book to read with their reading mentor that week.
I am also currently doing reading intervention with many of the younger kids, many of which need to work on the basics that they didn’t get because for some this is their first time being in school. So, I have the children read a book to me at their reading level, and then I provide a lesson to go along with it. I also help the teachers within the classroom when it is needed.
It impacts not only the kids that are having the advantage of people coming in a working with them but I also believe it impacts the teachers especially when you see that a student has improved in something that they were not able to do earlier in the year. I believe this really impacts the kids and the mentors though as they are working each week and although the student may not improve their reading every week they are working to improve and succeed in their reading skills.