Before I begin, I must let you know that when I first attended Freedom Readers, I had only intended to visit.
It all started when I asked Mrs. Tracy Bailey to tell me more about what she did.
I had been hearing about the program, and knew enough to know it was great. But as Tracy began to tell me more, I knew this was something I had to see for myself.
I determined to check it out the following week.
When I arrived, I was greeted and invited to join the circle. I immediately felt welcome and part of the group.
Tracy began by instructing us to make name plates –like successful people have on their desks… Ours were to have symbols representing our personalities and values. I was sitting beside a little guy named Devonte. I was immediately attracted to his big smile. He wasn’t completely following, so I asked what he would like to draw on his name plate. He wanted a football but needed some help. I was hooked. His eager spirit and bright eyes had caught my attention and stirred my spirit! At that moment I knew I had become more than just a one-time visitor.
The weeks that followed were great. I quickly learned that Devonte was a good bit younger than the rest of the group -only four years old! Probably needless to say, I struggled to keep his attention with books for the duration of the reading time, and was feeling quite exasperated trying to pull an “I know that I know something…” speech from the little guy!
When I mentioned my dilemma to Tracy, she encouraged me and spurred me on with great ideas of how to get and keep his attention, and she even gave me room to move outside the normal regimen of the program. What a relief!!
That week I came across an Itsy Bitsy Spider book and found these cut-out patterns online.
Well, they did the trick! He loved the cut-outs, loved the song, and with a little help from a small dry-erase board, he even loved writing! We drew spiders with eight legs and a web in the corner, and practiced the letter D for Devonte! 🙂 It felt like success and a breakthrough that mattered!
I am incredibly thankful for Freedom Readers and the contribution it’s making to this community. Lives are being changed, and not just the moldable young scholars’ lives! I don’t know another volunteer mentor who wouldn’t say their life is also being impacted by their experience with Freedom Readers!
If you haven’t seen the program in action, I encourage you to check it out this fall. Maybe you’ll become more than a visitor too!