As a 2nd grade teacher at Geyer Springs Elementary, with over 20 students in her classroom, Mrs. Bulloch, like many other teachers, experienced the inability to dedicate a lot of one-on-one attention to students in the classroom. Now serving as an Academic Intervention Specialist at Meadowcliff Elementary, she discovered community resources, such as AR Kids Read, that offered tutoring for children reading below grade level in 1st – 3rd grade. “Many parents are working multiple jobs. There’s an imbalance. With AR Kids Read tutors, students have some stability and one-on-one attention.”
Because of AR Kids Read’s partnership with Meadowcliff Elementary, Mrs. Bulloch could connect with volunteer tutor, Kevin Smith. Mr. Smith, military postal service retiree and father, saw an announcement at his church, The Church at Rock Creek, requesting volunteers to tutor at local schools. “I had read the announcement before, but something just hit me that day last year and I decided to step up.” As a father, he was fortunate enough to be able to dedicate the time to be involved in his children’s learning experience. “Every day our kids read for 20 minutes before they could do anything else. My daughter loved to read. My son, not so much. That time was important.”
That brings us to a special little fourth grader at Meadowcliff Elementary, Kevin...
Kevin met Mr. Smith during his third-grade year. At that time, he was reading below grade level, which impacted his behavior and attitude. “I didn’t know I was going to get a tutor until a few days before he showed up and I was excited. I knew he was going to be nice. His name was Kevin, like mine, so we had something in common.” -Little Kevin
Volunteer tutors have a profound impact on reading levels and help build confidence and self-esteem. For the past year, Mr. Smith has been dedicated to Kevin by showing up every week. Mr. Smith even stayed after the AR Kids Read program had wrapped up for the year.
AR Kids Read is dedicated to providing mentors, or tutors, and has provided books for children to keep in their homes for over 5 years. Through AR Kids Read, Mr. Smith provided Kevin with 5 books to get his home library started last year. “There are a lot of kids that don’t even have one book at their house,” Mrs. Bulloch added.
AR Kids Read provides students with more opportunities to read by using easy-to-implement tutoring methods. Mr. Smith explains, “He’s a smart kid. Kevin could read, but he had a problem with punctuation and big words. I showed him how to break words down into syllables.
“At the beginning, his reading was choppy…I knew he had it in him, he just needed someone there to help him realize it.” – Mr. Smith
Volunteer tutors have found that while providing tutoring service is the goal, you often end up addressing other issues, that ultimately changes a child’s life. Mr. Smith explains, “Kevin had a few attitude problems. I was trying to teach him about integrity. I was able to build him up and teach him life skills. Smith advised little Kevin, “You can’t pick your family or always control your situation, but you can take a deep breath and enjoy your day.”
Little Kevin noted, “He taught me how to do my spelling and he really helped me with my behavior…Mr. Smith is funny and he’s smart. He teaches me to do right.”
Mrs. Bulloch noticed the positive changes within Kevin. “If adults could know how much those kids are impacted by seeing someone come for them for 30 minutes a week…it would change a lot”, she added.
Not only does Kevin really love to read, but he loves comic books because “there are a lot of superheroes and they do nice things for people to save the world. That’s what Mr. Smith does.” With strong nodding, a lit-up face, huge grin and wide eyes, Kevin exclaimed,
“Mr. Smith is a superhero! If he didn’t help me, I would’ve been stuck in the same place.” -Little Kevin
Little Kevin would like to write a comic book featuring Mr. Smith, which he would call, “Super Smith!”
Mr. Smith continues to impact new students each year, and still maintains his mentorship with Little Kevin. Because of Mr. Smith’s commitment to volunteering with AR Kids Read and to his students, Kevin’s character and education improved. AR Kids Read provides Mr. Smith with training, ongoing support, and books to give to his students each year so that he can be well-equipped for success.
As a fourth grader reading on grade level, Kevin is able to learn more and accomplish the things he sets his mind to. He just might get around to writing “Super Smith”. Who knows?