"He's a student leader in our classroom now," says Jose's teacher.

“IRC (Impact Reading Center) runs so much deeper than just the curriculum. To provide the tools for literacy is one thing, but to empower and let the student know that it is okay to fail is even more imperative,” says Emily Wesslin, a third grade teacher at McPhee Elementary. This year Wesslin saw IRC impact one particular student in a big way.

Jose* is an English language learner for whom reading has been a challenge since Kindergarten. He would refuse to read in class, disengaging and hanging his head in embarrassment. His reading fluency and comprehension were disturbingly low last fall, when Wesslin enrolled him in IRC.

Jose was paired with an IRC one-on-one reading tutor, David. The two began meeting twice a week for tutoring sessions. David patiently built trust with Jose, offering the boy consistent encouragement and giving him a safe place to try, succeed, and fail. Within weeks Jose’s reading skills began improving, and by the end of the semester he was reading with confidence.

Wesslin believes that IRC has an impact beyond literacy tutoring. “To have David sit next to Jose and tell him that it is okay to try new things, means everything to him. Jose knows that even if he stumbles, he is still smart, worthy, and capable.” says Wesslin.

Today, Jose is a different kid. Not only did has he made huge gains with reading, he’s taking on more responsibilities. When his class works in independent groups, Jose goes around the classroom checking on fellow students, answering their questions, and providing direction.

“He’s a student leader in our classroom now,” says Wesslin, “He’s developed the ability to answer questions from other students. He couldn’t do that before!”  

At parent-teacher conferences Jose’s father was blown away by his son’s progress, as Wesslin presented perfect test scores for a boy who was failing just a few months earlier. She knew his dad had been preparing himself for more bad news.

“Is that my son?” said Jose’s father, not quite believing the transformation.

 “He’s a big burly guy, but he just melted,” says Wesslin, of Jose’s father. She watched as the two shared a sweet, if awkward, embrace. “I could tell that kind of affection didn’t happen a lot between those two.”

Today, Jose is reading above grade level, and is proud to participate in class reading time. His progress even inspired his older brother to work harder in school. His growth, tenacity, and confidence are a shining example of the ripple effect we talk about at City Impact.

*Name changed for privacy