MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In elementary schools, second grade can be a critical year in reading development.
By third grade if a student isn’t reading proficiently, he or she can fall behind and become discouraged.
It’s why stakeholders from family members, educators and students themselves say Team Read can make a difference.
Treadwell Elementary School, “Home of the Soaring Eagles.” When it comes to learning and reading, the motto at this school could be never judge a book by its cover, or in this case, never judge students like third grader Addis Shiberou until you get to know them and watch them learn and listen to every word they read.
Addis is a quiet, soft spoken eight year old, but his ability to learn to read in both English and Spanish speaks volumes.
Addis is in Treadwell’s Dual Language Immersion Optional Program where he learns in both English and Spanish.
His mom, Jennifer, credits his transformation in the classroom to Team Read.
“Team Read is really an amazing program we have in Memphis to help kids learn how to read,” Jennifer Shiberou said.
Through Team Read, Addis is not only reading better, he’s also comprehending what he reads.
“I have seen a lot of growth since team read in his ability to decode words and words that he doesn’t know, being able to pronounce those words. I have also seen growth in his vocabulary and his comprehension skills,” Jennifer Shiberou said.
Morgan Schroeder is a Dual Immersion English and Spanish teacher at Treadwell.
No matter the language read or spoken, it translates into Addis becoming a better student.
“I’ve seen him in the time I have known him learn to assert himself when he wants to and share what he wants to say and learning to verbalize his thinking,” Morgan Schroeder said.
It’s an investment that’s already getting promising results for students.
Dr. Tanisha Heaston is the principal at Treadwell Elementary School.
“Our district just released our scores for a standard achievement test and looking at our second grade scores this year we have made significant gains. Actually, we are the highest elementary school in our zone for reading in the Sat 10, which is directly impacting our second grade students,” Dr. Tanisha Heaston said.
This literacy effort is not only valuable, but some say it’s urgent in Memphis.
“A lot of the kids are not ready in grade level and lot of students wind up in poverty and not able to make it to college and if you want to make a difference in Memphis, this is really the best way because you are getting kids at such a young age,” Jennifer Shiberou said.
Aside from that, Team Read is giving some children something they’ve never had before: a feeling as if the community really believes in them and their future.
Jennifer and Addis got a first hand look at how much it helps.
“I think that the Team Read program shows students that the community cares about them and that they have an interest in their success. I know that was the case with my son. He came home and told me the story about his Team Read tutor asking him what he wanted to be when he grew up,” Jennifer Shiberou said.
“One day my tutor asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up and I said I wanted to be a scientist and she said in fourth grade President Obama, his teacher asked what he wanted to be and he grew up to be President and she said when I grow up, she said you can be a scientist. She took a picture of me. She says when everybody says when I’m a scientist, she’ll say I taught that boy in second grade. She said you can be a scientist,” Addis Shiberou said.
Perhaps one day Addis will be a scientist, an artist or whatever he wants because he’s getting the tools to succeed, but right now his mind is focused on reading another book.
Addis is showing you should never judge a book by its cover or a student when helped by a Team Read volunteer.
“She (volunteer) said I can be what I want to be and if Team Read goes to other schools that would help students and schools learn more in English,” Addis Shiberou said.