Meet Jen: Reading Success Tutor

Once a week, Jen drives from Grayslake to Glenwood Elementary School in Waukegan to volunteer for United Way of Lake County’s Reading Success program. “I wanted to find a way to get more involved in my community and make a positive impact.” Through Reading Success, Jen is helping early elementary students build literacy skills so that they are able to read at grade level.

Reading Success volunteers, like Jen, are essential—especially right now. Over the last year, school closures, unequal access to technology and other disruptions due to COVID-19 blocked students from accessing the learning they needed. This has led to unfinished learning for many students. In the Waukegan school district, the number of students meeting or exceeding standards has decreased by half in most grade levels. Unfinished learning in reading is greatest for students in early elementary grades.

Each week, Jen tutors two second grade students who are below grade reading level. “I love spending one-on-one time getting to know my students. And I really enjoy encouraging them in their reading to help them see how much fun reading can be.” Jen starts each session checking in about how their week is going and they share good books they have read throughout the week.” The students then read a passage or a small book. “Together we work through tricky words they encounter along the way and celebrate their reading successes.”

In just one month with her students, Jen is already seeing progress. “I see my students becoming more confident and enthusiastic readers.” As a Reading Success tutor, Jen is making a meaningful difference for her students. “I feel like, by helping my students become strong readers, it will help to open so many doors for them throughout their lives.”

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