When Jacob* first began working with his tutor, Martha Chisenhall, he was having some difficulty reading;
however, after selecting more appropriate books and receiving a little encouragement from Chisenhall,
Jacob began flying high.
“I mostly read to him,” Chisenhall reflected on her first sessions with Jacob. However, after Chisenhall
helped Jacob select books that were more appropriate for his reading level, things changed dramatically.
“Now he mostly reads to me! I have seen a great improvement in his ability to read and his confidence in
his ability to read,” she explained.
Chisenhall tutors two third graders, Jacob and Katie*, at Williams Magnet Elementary School in the Little
Rock School District. She became involved with AR Kids Read after her friend and fellow tutor, Debby
Coates, told her about the program and the need for more volunteers.
AR Kids Read tutors are asked to donate one hour of their time each week to help students in Central
Arkansas learn to read. While it is does take commitment, it is something that tutors like Chisenhall say
they look forward to.
“Even if I think my day is full I am always glad I spent an hour with Jacob and Katie,” Chisenhall said.
According to AR Kids Read Executive Director Charlie Conklin, that commitment is vital to the program’s
success. “We want our tutors to build relationships with the students they work with because we know
that relationship is the foundation of student success,” Conklin explained.
That’s something Chisenhall can relate to in her experience with Jacob, who wants to be a pilot when he
grows up. “He is so much like my 35-year-old son who is a pilot,” she said. “So far we have only read about
planes!” Chisenhall said.
As Chisenhall’s story demonstrates, just one hour a week can make a huge difference in the life of a child.
“He told me I would be a great teacher and he wanted me to be his 4th grade teacher!” Chisenhall said,
describing a time when Jacob told her how much he enjoyed spending his Mondays with her.
To learn more about how you can make a difference in the life of a child in Central Arkansas, please visit
www.ARKidsRead.org. Tutors, advocates, and sponsors are always needed.
*Name has been changed out of respect for the privacy of students.