Hayden Wike’s Success Story
I am a parent of two boys. I am also an elementary school teacher. Both my boys were exposed to literature and read to numerous times each day. However, my youngest son (diagnosed with ADHD) was unable to read when he reached first grade. He could not recognize his name and could most certainly not write anything. During the first-grade testing process, he was identified as a non-reader. I knew that, but it was quite hard to understand. I had tried to teach him from the time he was born. My other son never had any problems with letters, sounds, or words. Thank goodness for the Reading Recovery program and a wonderful person, Teresa Garrett. She picked him up immediately for her program and began working with him. I know her sessions with him were intense, but he seemed to be improving daily and did love her and her class. He was excited about books for the first time in his life. He brought books home from her classroom to read, he brought books that he made home to read, and he looked for things to read in our house. I am not sure how Mrs. Garrett did it, but I am so very thankful she did. My son’s entire life was turned around. His self-esteem was raised immediately when he could recognize and write his name. When he began actually reading, we could not stop him. His love for books has grown immensely. He has become an advanced reader. I can without a doubt say that Reading Recovery changed our lives.
On a professional note, Mrs. Garrett is the kindest, most sincere person I know. She is always willing to help with any situation. She is an excellent teacher — the epitome of the word teacher. We need to recognize Reading Recovery teachers — my child’s life and my family’s life was changed by this one, wonderful teacher. Being a teacher myself, I know how difficult this can be. I salute the Reading Recovery teachers, and say “Thank you for a job well done and keep up the great work.”
By Lesa Wike
Cree Waters’s Success Story
Cree Waters was a first round Reading Recovery student. He was the lowest child on the 1st-grade ranking. I learned from his k-5 teachers that they wanted to have him tested in kindergarten and that he had very little support at home. This made me more determined to motivate Cree and get him interested in reading. In talking and reading with Cree, I learned that he was very knowledgeable and interested in hunting. We began making books and writing about hunting. I sent these books home for Cree to read. One day he came in very excited and couldn’t wait to share. He and his dad had read the book Going Hunting that we made in one of our roaming lessons. At home, that night he and his dad had added a page by putting a picture of Cree with a deer they had hunted and Cree wrote a sentence about the picture with the help of his dad. This seemed to set the tone for our lessons. I began to see a shift in Cree and how he viewed reading. Cree continued to grow and learn as a reader and writer. He discontinued on a level 14 at Christmas and on level 18 at the end of the year. Cree was reading with the average of his class, but better than that Cree had the confidence and motivation he needed to be a successful reader. His classroom teacher was thrilled with his progress. Cree is in second grade now, and he continues to read with the average of his class. Cree has shown me how important it is to reach children where they are. He is a perfect example of how using motivation and having high expectations can help a child reach their fullest potential.
Patricia’s Success Story
Patrisia was my first ESL student. She was struggling to learn to read in the classroom and was a little shy. In early lessons, I realized that most of our conversations stemmed from activities that were culturally relevant to her. So I began choosing books that featured children who either looked like her or had Hispanic names. This gave her personal connection to the stories, and it increased her eagerness to read! The first book I chose for her was Tacos because her parents owned a restaurant and tacos was something I know she would be very familiar with. She was captivated by the book and began to read. She got to the word cheese and said “queso.” I explained to her that in Spanish you would say queso, but in English, it’s called cheese. We practiced going from the Spanish word to the English word a few times, and she had it. We both had an “aha moment” that day. Patrisia felt important because I acknowledged her culture and could even speak a little Spanish. I realized that Patrisia just needed the English links to the Spanish she already knew. We discovered together how my language and her language compared and we worked out the structural kink that interfered with her learning how to read. Happily, Patrisia successfully discontinued! It was at the award’s day ceremony that I really realized what I had helped her to achieve. Her mother came to me with tears welled up in her eyes and explained (with some help) that Patrisia was the first to learn how to read English in her family! Patrisa was beginning to use my books to help her mom learn English too. Reading Recovery was indeed a precious, gift opening new doors for her family here and in Mexico!
Adam’s Success Story
As a 6th grade ELA teacher in a K4-8th grade school, I’ve always heard about Reading Recovery. Though many of my students have been “graduates” of the program, the only thing I really knew about it was that it helped students with their reading if they were having problems. My youngest child, Adam, wasn’t progressing with his reading in first grade. I felt like he started the year behind his peers, but I wasn’t sure if part of that was due to the fact that he was babied (he’s the only boy and youngest of 3) or because he was truly behind. As it got closer to Christmas, I could see some progression with Adam’s reading, but it still wasn’t where it should be. We were very fortunate in that Adam’s classroom teacher was a former Reading Recovery teacher and she worked with him a lot on developing strategies. In January I began to worry that Adam would need to be retained because things weren’t clicking. At the same time, he qualified for Reading Recovery and started that. Within just a couple of weeks, I could see a change in Adam’s reading and writing. His confidence soared! He’d always like to be read to but never wanted to be the reader. Now, it was hard to get him to put a book down. It was amazing to me both as a teacher and parent to watch Adam engage in the strategies automatically, without needing any prodding. One of the most incredible things was when I observed (through the one-way mirror) Adam and his teacher engaged in a lesson. My son was so proud of himself and took the initiative to do only his very best work. A year later, Adam continues to thrive. His reading and writing skills are on level, and his confidence continues to grow. More importantly, he enjoys reading and writing on his own. Without Reading Recovery, he would not be the successful student he is now.
Izaak’s Success Story
I’ll never forget the first day I worked with Izaak. He had little success in Kindergarten and expected the same thing in first grade. He just didn’t want to have anything to do with reading, writing, or school in general. When I told him he would become a reader and a writer this year he said, “I can’t read. I can’t write. And I don’t want to!” For the first six weeks or more I made little books for him with large print, extra spacing, and colorful pictures. It took weeks just to add a few words to his writing and reading charts and to witness his text level graph climb. Maryann McBride and Jean Floyd gave wonderful, helpful suggestions and support and before long he bloomed, just like Leo the Late Bloomer. When he discontinued, we were all elated! He made tremendous gains on the OS and eventually read level 28 and wrote 58 words at the end of the year. After Reading Recovery, he remained on the RTI watch list as a precaution and continued to receive small group reading instruction daily as well as good classroom support. Comparing Izaak’s performance to that of his classmates on the Horry County School District’s first-grade assessment, he has far surpassed the expectations of an average first grader. When initially tested on oral reading fluency, Izaak could only read eight words per minute at 47% accuracy. By the end of the school year, he read 57 words per minute at 95% accuracy. His overall composite score gain was 175 points, one of the highest in our school! IzaakI has completely changed as a student and will be successful all through school. His grandmother summed up his success best when she said, “I couldn’t get Izaak to do anything, and now he walks around the house with a hard-back book!” Izaak is truly a Reading Recovery success story!
By Colleen Jones,
Reading Recovery Teacher, South Conway Elementary School
Shavonne Seymour’s Success Story
Shavonne Seymore was a Reading Recovery student at Carolina Elementary School in Hartsville and graduated from Hartsville High School this year 2008. She will be attending Bevill State Community College in Fayette, Alabama this fall and plans to major in pharmacy. In high school, she was a star basketball player and received many awards, including Best Offensive Player and Most Improved for the Hartsville Lady Foxes. She also played on the All-State team in April.
Quotes from Shavonne:
“I love to read! I read all the time. My favorite book is We Beat the Streets. It’s a true story about some doctors who beat the odds and became doctors. Math was my favorite subject in high school, and I’m planning to major in pharmacy at Bevill State in Fayette, Alabama.”