A Community Member’s Request Launched A Literacy Clinic and Hasleey Learned To Read
By Chelsea Boniak
July 15, 2019
Most of our school partnerships are established through word of mouth, and Manzanita Seed is no exception. A community member made a call to Children Rising, advocating for a particular student who was seriously struggling in school. Rebecca Buckley, Succeeding by Reading program director, arranged a meeting with the school and explained that we don’t typically work with a single student, but asked if they might need a reading clinic. The school did, in fact, and Rebecca and her team went to work setting up shop at Manzanita Seed Elementary.
“We tutors are part of a marvelous equation that adds up to helping Oakland’s kids learn to read.” – Gail Hatch, Succeeding by Reading tutor
When the reading clinic began, one of its participants was Hasleey, the student who inspired the phone call. Hasleey’s tutor, Gail Hatch, recalls opening the first box of sight words during their initial tutoring session. “To my surprise, Hasleey could not read the very first words: ‘a’ or ‘I’. I saw her face go blank and my heart went out to her.”
Gail learned that everyone in Hasleey’s family except one uncle speaks only Spanish. Gail assured Hasleey that she would soon become bilingual—not only in speaking and understanding, but in reading and writing—and Hasleey was excited at the idea. The pair worked diligently through vowel sounds, sight words, and phonics.
Once, Gail had Hasleey make up a simple story about objects from a short vowel sound bin, a common phonics exercise. Gail wrote it down, and then had Hasleey read it aloud. Hasleey was able to read most of her own story with very little help—big smiles all around. Later in the year, Hasleey read the word “frog” in one of her books. She turned to Gail and said, “That’s like the frog in the bin!” Gail brought out the Short O bin. Hasleey placed the miniature frog in front of her book and finished reading it.
Today, Hasleey is reading at grade level and enjoying it.
“I listen to Hasleey reading, turning the pages herself with confidence, and adding in expression—which tells me she is reading for comprehension and not just decoding,” Gail remarks. “When I observe Hasleey making connections, it means she is on her way! She is succeeding in reading, and she is beginning to enjoy reading!”
Gail is grateful for the opportunity to meet with Hasleey and watch the wonders of reading happen. “I am also keenly aware that we are not alone,” she adds, “we tutors are part of a marvelous equation that adds up to helping Oakland’s kids learn to read. It’s nothing short of a miracle.”