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Volunteer Spotlight – January 2017

Vol Spotlight

Please meet Carla Esparza and Tracey Taylor of Zachry Corporation, our Reading Buddies of the Month! Carla and Tracey are Reading Buddy partners, who together work with one student at Larkspur Elementary.

Volunteers, like Carla and Tracey, are crucial elements for continued growth and success of our organization. Their love for reading and passion for civic engagement has assisted SAYL in achieving our mission, and they will have a lasting impact on their student’s life. Not only has their dedication to the program effectively produced positive outcomes, but it has also increased their student’s level of confidence in reading.

Carla has been volunteering with SAYL for seven years now; originally starting at Northern Hills Elementary. When asked why she felt that reading with children is important, Carla stated, “I’ve enjoyed reading all my life, I want to share that joy with children. I usually learn what they like to try to get them interested in what they’re reading.” Carla is actively involved in her community and understands the importance of giving back. When asked if she would recommend SAYL to others, she answered, “Yes! I’ve tried to get my mom involved, new people at the office, and the retirement community because it gives them a purpose.” At the beginning of this year, working with her student was a  bit challenging for Carla as he was was distracted. With the help of our wonderful Program Manager, Kelly, she provided the proper tools that helped structure a more successful reading session. Carla noticed an improvement in reading and in her student’s all-around attitude.

As a newbie to the program (this is Tracey’s first year with SAYL) Tracey already sees the importance of being a Reading Buddy. “It helps build self-esteem and self-confidence.” She believes, “giving back is important because we are a community and we should be taking care of each other.” Tracey explained how her student looks forward to seeing them every week and when they are both there for the session he gets super excited. This program is special to Tracey because her student reminds her a lot of her own child.

Carla and Tracey have done an incredible job establishing expectations for how to behave while reading and have created a structured reading environment in which their student is able to thrive. Through implementing a positive reward system, their student is motivated to put his best foot forward during every session and his reading growth has reflected this effort. He has even asked them to report back to his teacher the positive strides he is making while working with them, a wonderful testament to how invested he is to do well each session. Kelly is so proud of the work Carla and Tracey have done to foster the type of reading environment their student needs to be successful.

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