At United Way of Lake County, we are dedicated to helping improve education and accessibility to resources for children in our community. A large part of that is our Reading Success Program. In the 2015-2016 school year, 89% of students improved their reading and comprehension. Because of that remarkable feat, we’d like to spotlight the volunteers who are a part of the Reading Success classroom tutoring program. They work closely with elementary-aged students to help them achieve grade-level reading standards, in order to prepare them for future success in school.
Meet Teresa Hatten and learn about her experience as a Reading Success tutor at North School in Waukegan.
Teresa Hatten, Reading Success tutor
What motivated you to become involved as a Reading Success tutor?
I learned of the community programs that United Way of Lake County had while I was an employee of Cardinal Health/ Baxter Healthcare. When I retired, I was very interested in participating in the volunteer opportunities through United Way. Once I learned about the objectives and potential benefits of the Reading Success Program, I signed up and have enjoyed all seven years I have been a part of it.
What do you enjoy about being a Reading Success tutor?
I truly feel I am making an impact working with the students and teachers at North School. I feel I have gained the trust and support of the teachers I have worked with and that they feel we are an extension of the students’ learning experience. The students are so eager to see me each week and are very engaged during our tutoring sessions. The praises and comments from both the teachers and students are heartwarming and make me feel valued.
What happens during your tutoring session? What do you and your students like to do together?
I currently have two students I tutor each week. I work one on one with each student for about 30 minutes. We chose a story and a workbook exercise from the teacher-provided materials. We review and discuss an overview of the story and key vocabulary words. Then the student reads aloud the story, we review again, write down any words or phrases they struggled with and discuss their meaning. We then discuss some review questions on the story which tests their comprehension. I also have the student prepare an index card of each story, writing down the title, a picture and what was their favorite thing about the story. We collect these all year so they have a journal of all the stories/books they have read, which they really enjoy having.
What are some of the most memorable experiences you have had with students?
There are some many I could mention. One of them would be a recent experience where the students and I did a presentation to the teacher and classroom. We prepared a poster board outlining what we have been doing in our tutoring sessions and each student told the class their favorite book, what it was about and what they liked about our sessions together. They displayed the index card journals they have prepared. The students were excited and proud of what they accomplished. The teacher said she was very moved by the students’ excitement and impressed by their comprehension of their experiences. Another could be how often I receive hugs and warm smiles when I arrive or when we end a session.
Why do you think other people should become involved and or support this program?
By being a part of this program either by becoming a Reading Success Volunteer or supporting the program in some way, you can truly feel that you are contributing back to your community. You are helping to better educate our children so they have better opportunities. We can help them to have better possibilities in their future and to make future positive impact on their own community. Additionally, you can feel personally valued and good about what you are contributing.
To learn more about how you can become involved in Reading Success Program, visit www.LIVEUNITEDlakecounty.org/readingsuccess.