10 Years of Reading Success: North Elementary
In 2010, United Way of Lake County developed the Reading Success program to help local students build literacy skills to ensure they can read at grade level by the end of the third grade. Reading Success targets first through third-grade students testing in the 20% – 40% in their class for reading and comprehension. Research shows that most students who are not proficient readers by the fourth grade will continue to remain behind throughout their educational careers. United Way brings trained volunteer reading tutors into Waukegan Public Schools weekly to tutor students, giving them individualized help to develop reading skills and improve performance. Over the last ten years, Reading Success has seen incredible results! First graders who received Reading Success tutors had improvement rates averaging 38% higher than their non-tutored peers at the same reading level!
To celebrate the success of our program over the last decade, we interviewed three advocates from North Elementary School in Waukegan.
Judge Luis A. Berrones, Volunteer Tutor
What motivated you to become a Reading Success tutor?
I have always believed that being able to read well allows that person to take control of their life and be a self-reliant, informed citizen. Not being able to read, or not being able to read well, deprives that person from being truly independent. After attending the combined Reading Success and Illinois Judges Association literacy initiative presentation several years ago, I immediately knew that the tutoring program was an excellent way for me to help students learn to read and improve their reading skills.
What are some of the most memorable experiences you have had with students?
The most memorable experience I’ve had is observing the progress students make in their reading skills. You can actually notice the students’ improvement from the start of the school year, when tutoring begins, until the end of the school year. It is also extremely satisfying to see how much the students appreciate us and the joy and excitement they show when we arrive to tutor them.
Why do you think other people should become involved with this program?
When I recruit other people to become tutors, I tell them that it’s enjoyable and extremely gratifying when you see the progress the students make in their reading skills. I also emphasize the importance of being able to learn to read at an early stage to give each student the opportunity to succeed in the future.
Ms. Chang, First Grade Teacher at North Elementary
How does Reading Success help you in your role as a teacher?
The Reading Success program is a valuable component and intervention that supports my reading instruction. It helps me greatly by providing those students a little extra boost and attention, which positively impacts their reading achievement.
How has Reading Success helped your students? What changes have you seen for students who take part in the program?
My students who participate in the Reading Success program always make substantial growth from fall to spring. Not only does their reading get better, but they thrive from the extra attention which boosts their self-confidence.
Do you have a specific story of how Reading Success has benefited your students?
My kids always look SO forward to their time with their tutors. That motivation lends itself to effective student engagement.
We also had the opportunity to discuss Reading Success with North Elementary School’s principal, Nicole Lemberger. “Our students are always super excited to have the reading tutors join them and share the joy of reading. They have an opportunity to make a connection with the tutor, have their reading abilities strengthened and it’s just a well-rounded program. We’re very excited to have a total of fourteen Lake County judges tutoring our students this year.”
“Reading Success gives the students a sense of purpose and it gives the tutors an opportunity to connect with students in a way that they may not otherwise have out in the community. We just want to thank all the participating judges of Lake County for taking time out of their busy days in order to support the students of North Elementary School.”
To support more of United Way of Lake County’s education programs, like Reading Success, visit www.LIVEUNITEDlakecounty.org/give.