*Mary was a shy third-grader in Emily Wesslin’s class in the fall of 2017. When Emily tested Mary’s reading skills she discovered that her student was reading at a Kindergarten level.
Mary’s mother was well aware of her daughter’s challenge and came to speak with Emily about it. She had enrolled Mary in tutoring clubs and summer school, but her daughter continued to struggle.
Emily became even more concerned when she saw Mary’s trouble with literacy translate to low scores throughout all her classes. She spent extra time with Mary during class, coaching and encouraging her, trying to engage her in reading. But Mary only withdrew further.
“It seemed that after a while, Mary just shut down, like there wasn’t any room left in her for new information. Mary was stressed and she knew she was struggling. It was too much for her to process. It was difficult to watch,” said Emily.
She decided to enroll Mary in Impact Reading Center to get more help. In September, Mary was matched with IRC volunteer David. A seasoned volunteer, David watched Mary and tailored his tutoring style to reach her where she was.
He approached the readings like a game, which engaged Mary enabling her to shed fears of inadequacy.
As the wall of shame disintegrated, Mary’s literacy skills grew, words came more easily and so did her smiles. The once shy and embarrassed girl became a confident student. David helped her find joy in learning and belief in herself.
Emily was thrilled at Mary’s progress with David coaching and cheering her along.
“Mary knows that she can take chances, and that she and David are in this together,” said Emily.
By the end of the school year, Mary was reading at grade level and at the top of her class in reading comprehension. Consequently, her once failing grades in all her other classes improved dramatically. From math story problems to science texts, Mary’s literacy gains have enabled her to succeed overall as a student.
It took a supportive mom, a dedicated teacher, and a creative volunteer to help Mary finally see her potential.
IRC was transformative for Mary, as it is for hundreds of students in Lincoln. Volunteers like David are making a difference in the lives of local kids, one hour at a time.
*Name changed for privacy