Reading Makes Us Better Humans

by | Feb 14, 2024 | 0 comments

Ashley Berndt and Amy Haynes, two passionate Reading Mentors with Lead to Read KC, share not only a common bond in their love for reading but they also share reading with a student at Crossroads Academy Quality Hill. Both began volunteering in 2018 and over the past year have been alternating weekly reading sessions with their student.

They both enjoyed reading as kids and were drawn to our mentoring program as a way to make an impact and also for how easy it fits into their work days. As Amy puts it, “What I love most is when the kiddo sounds out a word and gets it right, their eyes light up and I just love seeing them learn.” Ashley agrees, adding “Colleagues say they can tell when I have been reading with a student – that my persona changes and I’m eager to share that day’s experience. It’s such a reward within itself.”

The positive impact extends beyond academic achievements. Whether it’s asking about their day, their dog, or their favorite ice cream flavor, Ashley can see a real bond that has been developed. The high-fives Amy receives from previous students she sees in the hallway serve as heartwarming reminders of the past reading sessions.

They have seen their student become a better reader and witnessed even more powerful influences in his life. Recently he was especially eager to read A Kids Guide to Disability from a book series. When asked why he was so excited, he explained that “reading them inspired [me] to be a better human.” Ashley said “It was one of those ‘this is why we do what we do’ moments.”

Both Amy and Ashley have created their own approaches to setting a motivating learning environment. Amy suggests letting the student pick the book to read and then during the session ask about something that pertains to the book. She says, “It takes the focus directly off reading and sometimes we talk about fun facts related to the book’s subject.”

Ashley understands that everyone has good and bad days. She suggests, “Take a moment at the top of the session to ask how they are doing. If they get fatigued while reading, I will pause to go over what we just read, to help them comprehend and/or review the meaning of a difficult word.”

Both Ashley and Amy encourage others to consider becoming Reading Mentors to be part of the rewarding experience. Maybe you have a friend or coworker who wants to share a student with you. Join Lead to Read KC and make a difference through the power of reading. Get more information or apply today.


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