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A Community Member’s Request Launched A Literacy Clinic and Hasleey Learned To Read

By Jessie Palmatier
July 15th,2019

Hasleey is a reading super star

A member of our East Bay community reached out to Children Rising to make sure that Hasleey received the attention she needed to learn to read. That’s the power of a community engaged.

Most of our school partnerships are established through word of mouth, and Manzanita Seed is no exception. A community member made a call to Children Rising, advocating for a particular student who was seriously struggling in school. Rebecca Buckley, Succeeding by Reading program director, arranged a meeting with the school and explained that we don’t typically work with a single student, but asked if they might need a reading clinic. The school did, in fact, and Rebecca and her team went to work setting up shop at Manzanita Seed Elementary.

“We tutors are part of a marvelous equation that adds up to helping Oakland’s kids learn to read.” – Gail Hatch, Succeeding by Reading tutor

When the reading clinic began, one of its participants was Hasleey, the student who inspired the phone call. Hasleey’s tutor, Gail Hatch, recalls opening the first box of sight words during their initial tutoring session. “To my surprise, Hasleey could not read the very first words: ‘a’ or ‘I’. I saw her face go blank and my heart went out to her.”

Gail learned that everyone in Hasleey’s family except one uncle speaks only Spanish. Gail assured Hasleey that she would soon become bilingual—not only in speaking and understanding, but in reading and writing—and Hasleey was excited at the idea. The pair worked diligently through vowel sounds, sight words, and phonics.

Hasleey reads a story about frogs.

Hasleey could not identify basic sight words like ‘a’ and ‘I’. With hard work, and a dedicated tutor like Gail, she can now read at grade level, and identify the word ‘frog’!

Once, Gail had Hasleey make up a simple story about objects from a short vowel sound bin, a common phonics exercise. Gail wrote it down, and then had Hasleey read it aloud. Hasleey was able to read most of her own story with very little help—big smiles all around. Later in the year, Hasleey read the word “frog” in one of her books. She turned to Gail and said, “That’s like the frog in the bin!” Gail brought out the Short O bin. Hasleey placed the miniature frog in front of her book and finished reading it.

Today, Hasleey is reading at grade level and enjoying it.

“I listen to Hasleey reading, turning the pages herself with confidence, and adding in expression—which tells me she is reading for comprehension and not just decoding,” Gail remarks. “When I observe Hasleey making connections, it means she is on her way! She is succeeding in reading, and she is beginning to enjoy reading!”

Gail is grateful for the opportunity to meet with Hasleey and watch the wonders of reading happen. “I am also keenly aware that we are not alone,” she adds, “we tutors are part of a marvelous equation that adds up to helping Oakland’s kids learn to read. It’s nothing short of a miracle.”

YES, I CAN help a vulnerable child learn to read. Let’s talk!

 I want help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs.

 I want to be a tutor or mentor this school year. Tell me more!

Children Rising Above Childhood Trauma

By Jim Wambach
July 11th,2019

Perspectives article by Jim Wambach, Executive Director

“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.” — Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

Toxic stress in children

Earlier this year, Governor Newsom named Dr. Nadine Burke Harris as the state’s first-ever surgeon general. Dr. Burke Harris, a pediatrician who specializes in the impacts of trauma and toxic stress on the health of children, found that if her young patients “had four or more adverse childhood experiences, they were 32 times more likely to have learning and behavioral issues.” She further states: “Oftentimes the symptoms look very much like ADHD, but it can also present as simp¬ly being withdrawn — the symptoms are really varied and it depends on the individual and their experiences.”

Every week in our reading and math clinics, we see the effects of trauma on a precious 7- or 8-year-old child’s willingness and ability to learn.

“It is crystal clear that relationships are the counterpoint to traumatic stress in childhood.” Dr. Bruce Perry, senior fellow of the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas

How do children rise above these difficult challenges?
Tutor and student sharing a laugh.

Caring adults do more than help struggling students academically. They provide the personal love and attention vulnerable children need to rise above.

“It is crystal clear that relationships are the counterpoint to traumatic stress in childhood,” writes Dr. Bruce Perry, senior fellow of the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas. This is very good news! We know one caring adult can change a life! At Children Rising, our programs are all designed to foster important trusting relationships between a child and a caring adult. Each of our tutors is matched with a struggling child for the entire academic year and “shows up” week after week for that child. Our tutors know it is as much about caring and “being there” as it is about teaching math fluency or developing literacy skills.

Demonstrating to children week after week that they truly matter inspires children to get excited about learning. Not only can children experience the joy and fun of building skills, but they also gain needed confidence to be successful long-term learners as they progress in school.

We need YOU to get involved!

Please make a financial gift so we can provide more children with the personal love and attention they need to overcome the challenges of poverty, violence and educational inequity. Just as importantly, please join our wonderful team of volunteer tutors as we show up for each child each week.

YES, I CAN help a vulnerable child rise above the impact of trauma! Let’s talk!


 I want to be a tutor or mentor this school year. Tell me more!

 I want help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs.