“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” -Dr. Seuss
Yes, many of you will be reading this after having spent your last session this year with your students as their Reading Buddy. Those of us that have been privileged to share in a tiny piece of these children’s lives can only marvel at the miracle that is learning. Hopefully we have taken snap shots in our mind of our first meeting and the awkwardness of forming a new friendship, the first time we arrived to pick up our student, when we experienced their uncensored joy at seeing us at the door of their classroom, of the first time they realized that they were actually able to read books two or three reading levels higher than where they started and finally the bitter sweet moment that they, and we, realized that our mission for the year was nearing completion.
Although we are sad to leave our students, we take enormous comfort in the realization that we have given them the most precious gift we could possibly have provided — our time and sincere interest in their futures. Many of us have heard the story of the boy on the beach throwing stranded starfish back into the ocean, who when questioned by a passer-by on what he is doing, relates that he is saving the starfish from certain death. And who, when scoffed at by the stranger for the hopelessness of the sheer numbers that will not be saved, responds each time he throws one into the surf, “I saved that one.” That’s how we win in our fight for children’s literacy, one child at a time. We, at San Antonio Youth Literacy want to thank all our Reading Buddies for their passion for our mission and implore you to share the joy of your experiences, your snap shots, with friends and colleagues to recruit as new Reading Buddies for the 2017 – 2018 school year. And please remember that even though our program is conducted by trained volunteers, there are on-going program costs. What better way to honor your student than through a donation in their name to San Antonio Youth Literacy? San Antonio Youth Literacy (SAYL) board members will be contacting you over the summer to ask you for your continued support not only through your time but also through your treasure. Let’s make sure that SAYL continues to be an important part of the educational landscape of San Antonio for another twenty-five years and beyond. Become a member of the tribe.
San Antonio Youth Literacy will not be taking recess this summer. SAYL will be offering our summer program, Camp Read-Aloud, at both Ella Austin Center and Catholic Charities. In addition, we will be involved with the P16-Plus Council of Greater San Antonio and five area school districts in their summer initiative, Eight Is Great! This program is based on research that supports the premise that a child who reads at least 8 books during the summer is less likely to experience what is called Summer Slide, the loss of reading proficiency during school’s summer hiatus.
We all rejoice that we had this school year with our students. We are sad to leave them, but we will smile every time we recall the memories that were created. And, in the fall, we begin again!
Deborah L. Valdez, Executive Director