‘Super-Nanny’. That’s how Vivian, age 11 and currently in Gr. 6, and her parents, Daniel and Sandra, refer to Eileen, the volunteer who’s been working with Vivian in the TD Read With Me program since February 2009. For an hour a week during most weeks since then, Vivian and Eileen have met at a Library branch and shared reading in order to help Vivian develop her English literacy skills.
Vivian’s parents Sandra and Daniel are originally from South America and their first language is Spanish. When Vivian first started learning to read in English at school, they were a bit concerned as they felt they couldn’t provide as much help to her at home as they would have liked in this area. They decided to seek extra support for her through the Library's TD Read With Me program.
Enter Eileen and her dedicated, kind and patient help. Daniel explains: "Each week, we met with Eileen and saw Vivian progressing and becoming more confident. We started to notice how much help she was providing to Vivian and even to us, as parents. Vivian is now so confident – she corrects us on our pronunciation in English and sometimes serves as our ‘personal translator’. She also shows a special love for books and a love of learning in general. We feel this development is not only from the school environment, but also because of the friendship with Eileen. This is not just a reading program to us. We have developed a strong relationship with Eileen and we’re grateful for her time and knowledge. It’s more like a family relationship with her, for the whole family." Hence, ‘Super-Nanny’.
Vivian provided her own feedback about working with Eileen in the program:‘"I like being with her because I get a bit of social life with her and I enjoy reading with her. We read books on lots of topics. I like the program of the Library. It’s actually very good. I learned so much from Eileen’s experiences and all the words she’s taught me. It’s helped me in school. Eileen’s really nice and kind and when I don’t get something, she explains it until I get it and she’s a great person."
The feelings are mutual, as Eileen shares: "I've thoroughly enjoyed working with Vivian and her family. She’s kind of filled a gap for me because my grandchildren are all grown-up. I’ve always loved reading. We have fun."
Eileen and Vivian currently comprise the longest-standing match in the program, and they will have been working together for 5 years as of February 2014. What an amazing feat - to build such a strong and enduring bond! Thank you, Eileen, for all the time and energy you have dedicated to volunteering with Calgary Public Library! And best of luck to you, Vivian, in Junior High next fall!