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"Super-Nanny" to the Rescue!

by Katie R - 1 Comment(s)

‘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!

A Match Made in Canada

by Katie R - 0 Comment(s)

'I really liked working with Sharon because she helped me a lot if I had trouble and helped me sound words out. She’s nice.’

Strong praise from Brian, a Grade 6 student and recent graduate of the TD Read With Me program. He was speaking of Sharon Dun, the volunteer with whom he has worked in the program since December 2009. As of his graduation date in mid-June, Sharon and Brian comprised the 4th longest-standing match in the program. Matches in the TD Read With Me program meet one-on-one in a Library branch for an hour per week, so the participants can receive support around building their literacy skills from the volunteers, and it is a rare (and kindred) match that stays together for 3.5 years!

Sharon started with the program in February 2009 and worked for about six months with another young reader before she met Brian and his family. She is a kind, caring and fun individual with a wonderful sense of humour and she works hard to connect with and engage her young students in their sessions together each week.

Sharon relates:‘It’s been a great experience for me…I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been very rewarding, in many aspects. Brian’s family has been so involved, supportive and encouraging of Brian. I’ve felt really appreciated. I’m impressed with how much Brian has improved with his reading and self-confidence. It’s been really neat to watch him grow and learn.’

Inju and Kang Chul, Brian’s parents, wanted to voice their esteem for Sharon as well:‘We really appreciate Sharon coming every week and helping Brian. He enjoys the Library sessions with her because she makes things fun. We feel it’s really great that Sharon volunteers her time- it’s not the case as much [that people volunteer] in Korea, where we’re from, so it’s really incredible and we’re thankful.’

Thank you, Sharon, for all the amazing help you’ve provided to Brian in the TD Read With Me program! Best of luck to you in junior high, Brian!

Pictured above: Volunteer Sharon Dun, Learner Brian, and parents Inju and Kang Chul

Triple Play

by Katie R - 0 Comment(s)

Liam (center), and his younger twin brothers, Harris and Owen, have been participants in the Read With Me program at Calgary Public Library for three years. They work with their volunteers, Brita Wahl, Senthil Gnanasambandam and Ruth Halford, respectively, for an hour each week at a Library branch to develop their literacy skills.

Ruth and Owen have been a pair since November 2009. The boys’ father, Bryan, states, 'Owen loves Ruth. She’s amazing. She makes it fun for him to learn and he always comes back in a good mood after their sessions.’ Owen confirms this: ‘It’s fun working with Ruth and really educating. Sometimes, we do games and hard mazes and stuff like that. When we have to read, she picks books that I like and that are funny.’

Brita and Liam have worked together since September 2010. In Liam’s words, ‘It’s been good…in lots of ways. We do reading and she’ll play games with me. She’s really nice and she helps me with the words and stuff.’ Bryan adds, ‘Brita has a calm, peaceful personality, which is exactly what Liam needs, especially in his learning. She keeps him engaged and focused.’

Senthil and Harris began their match in January 2012. Bryan shared that since starting work with Senthil, Harris now loves reading and does so independently at home daily. Harris confers, ‘Senthil is really good. I really like him a lot. He really helps me a lot. I’ve improved my reading since I started working with him and now I’m figuring-out more hard words. He’s really nice and lets me pick books I like.’

All three volunteers feel the boys are benefiting from their help in the program and enjoy their sessions together. Brita says she loves working with Liam and ‘It’s been fun getting to learn something new each session…I’ve learned a lot about sharks, scorpions and Star Wars’.

Bryan is unequivocal about the help provided to his children by the volunteers: ‘We are so happy and amazed by the program and so appreciative of all the folks who volunteer.’

Thank you, Ruth, Brita, and Senthil for all your efforts and sharing your love of literacy with these children!

Live near Country Hills?

by Christine P - 0 Comment(s)

Volunteers are needed at our Country Hills Library for our ESL Conversation Club and TD Read With Me programs.

Help adult English learners practice their speaking skills and gain confidence through games, conversation starters, and group activities with the ESL Conversation Club

OR

Help children improve their reading skills with our TD Read with Me Program.

Volunteers must be over 18, fluent in English, and able to make a one year commitment. To apply, please click here.

Bonding Over Books

by Christine P - 0 Comment(s)

Patient, kind, warm, calm. These are examples of words that have been used to describe Safina Sachedina, a volunteer with the Calgary Public Library’s ‘TD Read With Me’ program since 2009. Safina’s been working and reading with her young buddy, Shenise, for an hour a week at a library branch since October 2009. Shenise will graduate from the program later in Summer 2012, as she’s completed Gr. 6, and she credits Safina with helping her a lot over the almost three years they’ve worked together:

‘It’s been really, really good working with Safina. I feel really confident in my reading now. She’s really, really nice and doesn’t get frustrated if I don’t understand. I feel comfortable with Safina and she really understands when I have rough days…I don’t have to read then, we can play games instead. We’ve become friends.’

Michelle, Shenise’s mom, elaborates on the help that Safina has provided to her daughter through the program:

‘It’s been wonderful. We couldn’t have asked for a better fit than we got with Safina. She’s the most patient person I’ve ever met. She’s been able to break-down the barriers that Shenise puts up on bad days. They’re very in-tune with each other and have developed a real friendship. Safina has not only helped to develop Shenise’s reading skills but has also helped to raise her self-esteem and has been more like a mentor to her.’

According to Safina, the feeling goes both ways. ‘It’s been really good, working with Shenise and her family. I’ve really gotten to know her well and she’s a good girl and so fun. We’ve bonded really well and I’ve seen her grow a lot in confidence in general across the years. I see her going far in life. She’ll have to work hard (don’t we all! J) but she’ll get there!’

Thank you, Safina, for all your dedication to the program over the past 3 years! And best of luck to you, Shenise, in junior high in the fall!

Active Learning

by Christine P - 2 Comment(s)

Navjot Virk exudes warmth, friendliness and intelligence. She and Piyush have been reading partners in the TD Read With Me program for the past two and a half years. They’ve met once a week for an hour over that period at a Calgary Public Library branch to read and enjoy literacy together. Piyush graduated from the program in June 2012, following the completion of his Gr. 6 school year.

According to Shalini, Piyush’s mom, his graduation comes a few years too soon. ‘I would have liked it if he could have stayed in the program through his junior high years. Navjot has really helped him, not only with his reading, but also with personal growth. He sees her as a role model and a ‘big sister’. Their personalities matched very well. You can’t just give him a book and sit and read straight for an hour. Navjot recognized that and made program sessions interactive for him, playing board games and doing different activities with him, and kept him engaged.’

Piyush agrees, stating that working with Navjot over the years has been ‘really good.’ He has improved his reading skills a lot. He elaborates that Navjot ‘helps you with your homework, if you have some. [Our program sessions] were interesting. It was never the same thing…[the activities were] always mixed-up…so it wasn’t just reading all the time but we played games together too. It was fun.’

Navjot concurs. ‘Piyush is awesome and I think I learn more from him than he does from me. The coolest thing has been seeing his self-confidence increase. We’ve been paired together for so long that we’ve really developed a relationship and it’s been neat to see him make progress through the years’.

Shalini has no doubt that the next child paired with Navjot in the program will see similar benefits from her support. The staff at Calgary Public Library could not agree more.

Thank you, Navjot! And best of luck in Junior High in the fall, Piyush!

If you want to learn more about the TD Read With Me program, click here.

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