Nine-year-old, Ava*is known by her family and teachers as being a bookworm. What she enjoys most about reading is getting lost in the different stories and characters she comes across. She is a known regular at her local public library and can easily consume one book after another. Although her passion for reading is evident, this has not always been the case.
Ava grew up in a Spanish speaking household where English was barely ever used. Once she began elementary school, she was enrolled in ESL classes where she slowly learned the English language. Although it was a struggle, Ava excelled in other subjects, such as science and math. Because of the difficulties she had comprehending what she was reading, Ava simply found books boring.
With little interest and effort being put towards academics, Ava’s grades began to suffer. Learning of the struggles she was facing in school, Ava’s Director of Social Services recommended that she attend sessions at the After School Program (ASP) provided by LifeSTEPS. Shy at first, Ava began to warm up to her Program Coordinator, Maria who tried making reading a fun activity. Maria knew how difficult it was to garner interest in learning to read, so she created games where students would construct sentences and earn prizes.
With Ava’s competitive nature and playful spirit, she took it upon herself to focus on her reading and writing skills in order to outshine the rest of the students. Over time, Ava began to fully grasp the English language which opened up a new world of possibilities. After completing one book, she was on to the next. Not only did her grades in English and Language improve, but her love for books became a passion. With reading, Ava was able to escape and explore new worlds, as well as learn different subjects.
When Ava first attended the After School Program, her English was limited and scarce. Today, Ava is in the fourth grade and currently reading at a sixth grade level. Not only has her reading improved tremendously, but she is now one of the top students in her class with an even brighter future. “Some students just need a little encouragement to make a subject enjoyable. Ava has been a great example to other kids in ASP,” Maria says.
With the After School Program reaching hundreds of kids, students like Ava are able to excel in subjects they never thought they could. Not only does it provide support and a positive learning environment, but it also gives kids a sense of empowerment, helping them prepare for a successful future.
*name has been changed