This story was submitted by our Site Coordinator Natalie:

Jayden, a 1st grader, joined our Small Reading Group in the fall. He was a below level reader contending with the many challenges facing lower income, single parent households. On a few occasions his family had received food assistance from us for the holidays.

Initially, Jayden was a very quiet child who lacked the confidence necessary to participate fully. I was constantly trying to encourage him to share his answers, but he struggled to retain what he was learning. Then one day while I was quizzing the students on their Read Well sight words, Jayden chimed in and read the word and said the answer first. I was so happy that he had come out of his shell and was participating. He beamed with a huge smile from that day on.

Within five months Jayden met his goal of reading at grade level and was transferred out of the program, an accomplishment he gleefully relished.  Jayden loved coming to group, and the first day he knew he was not going to be coming with me to work on his literacy skills he said, “I don’t have to go with you today, Miss Natalie.” He said it with a huge smile, and beamed with pride in his accomplishment. That’s all I can hope for, and I am so proud of him.

Jayden, who would like to grow up to be a doctor, continues to excel at his daily work and on tests. Moreover, he has also been moved out of another CIS of Puyallup program he was enrolled in, Good Samaritan Readers, as a result of meeting his literacy goals.

It takes confidence to be a kid. And it will surely take confidence to be a doctor. But by building the confidence and academic skills of bright young kids like Jayden we can help empower them to succeed not just in school but in life!

Note: names have been changed to protect student privacy.