Creating a Positive School/Community Relationship through Reading Partners

by Karla Moreno

Karla Moreno is the site coordinator for Reading Partners at Roosevelt Elementary School in Lawndale, California. Before becoming a site coordinator for Reading Partners, she was a Jumpstart Corps member at UC Berkeley.

Serving with Jumpstart exposed me to the importance of maintaining a positive relationship between school and community. As a Corps member, I became comfortable speaking to teachers and parents about the learning and growth of my Jumpstart partner children throughout the year.

I regularly use this skill at Reading Partners where I lead the day-to-day operations of the Reading Center. As part of my role, I am responsible for preparing student progress reports once a semester. We have beginning, middle, and end of the year student assessments and share this data with teachers and school staff. We monitor student progress to ensure they make significant gains in our program. Discussing progress with parents almost always promotes student motivation.

I doubt I would have been prepared for my current role had it not been for Jumpstart. Prior to becoming a Corps member, I had little knowledge of reading strategies for children. However, my Jumpstart site manager and team leader made it a priority to first show us effective reading techniques, then follow up with an email summary. I use this approach when I train and support our community volunteers at Reading Partners. I first show my tutors helpful strategies to promote reading comprehension then follow up with an email explaining strategies in-depth and attach pre-made handouts from our database.

Similar to Jumpstart, Reading Partners provides training before and during our service. The first three weeks includes a Reading Partners program orientation where we receive training on specific skills including literacy curriculum, community engagement, tutor training techniques, working with children, team-building, and community resource mapping. We have an immense support system that consists of the executive director, program managers, and other site coordinators. If and when I have a small or big issue, I can always count on my team!

The biggest thing I learned from Jumpstart was how to manage student behavior. My site manager at Jumpstart taught me classroom management skills such as setting the student aside and speaking to them for a few minutes. As a site coordinator I encounter the same situations weekly. Taking students aside and having conversations about the causes and possible solutions has been an effective strategy to further engage my students.

Reading Partners is an amazing opportunity for service-minded individuals to make a significant impact in a child’s life. What I truly love about Reading Partners is witnessing the progress the children make. Similar to Jumpstart, my service with Reading Partners is humbling and rewarding. I regularly use the skills that I learned at Jumpstart, while having the opportunity to adopt leadership skills. Anyone who has been a Jumpstart Corps member has already developed the desired qualifications for Reading Partners. I would recommend any Jumpstart Corps member or team leader to join Reading Partners and continue to be part of a national movement to close the achievement gap!

Together, we can help all children build the key language and literacy skills they need to take on the world.

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