Every week over 1400 volunteers lovingly tutor students in our city’s schools through Team Read, a volunteer tutoring program that helps second graders improve their sight word vocabulary. Learning essential sight words (the words most commonly used in the English language) greatly increases reading and academic fluencies. Volunteers tutor for one hour each week, working one-on-one with two different students for 30 minutes each, using the over 10,000 books collected for the program. Team Read targets students in second grade because it is the important year when they are learning to read before switching in third grade to reading to learn. This program impacts not only the students, but also their families, the volunteers, teachers, and administrators, opening minds, doors, and hearts, and changing our world with love.

We visit one school and talk with one of these volunteers, Donna, a lawyer who stops to tutor on her way to work one day a week. She loves reading and interacting with the students and hopes to pass on to them the gift of being able to read well, opening their imaginations and giving them access to the world of opportunities that reading offers.

Kiersten, the school’s passionate principal, shares with us what Team Read means for her students. She says she wants them all to have the ability to read so life is open to them, the gift of opening a book to open up their worlds. Kiersten explains how the program works by using the relationships with tutors to motivate students to want to learn to read, building their academic and reading fluencies while they are feeling loved and having fun. She tells us about one tutor who even made a board game to use with his students. Kiersten stresses the importance of reading and fondly recalls the first time she was able to read on her own, expressing great pride in seeing her students finally getting to that point after working so hard in kindergarten and first grade.

We end with Kiersten’s emotional thanks to Team Read and her belief that we have the ability to change the world with love. We are grateful for Kiersten and Donna and for the many great principals and Team Read tutors in our city, who are changing our community one student at a time.