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May 28, 2013 > Reading to succeed!

Reading to succeed!

Submitted By Christie Chong

On Mondays and Thursdays, one classroom stands out during quiet afterschool afternoons at Azevada Elementary School. Room 18 is bustling with the positive energy of young students at Azevada's afterschool reading clinic, where reading is an exciting journey, understanding new words and achieving success.

Teaming with local high school volunteers, from Mission San Jose, Irvington, Kennedy and Robertson high schools, the first session of Azevada Elementary School's afterschool reading clinic has just ended. Students volunteered two hours of their week for two months to partner with an at-risk first to third grader practicing reading strategies. The two-hour sessions helped students through continuous reading practice and resulted in great improvement of their reading fluency. Participating students' reading fluency went up an average of 22.4 words per minute, or 31.8 percent.

A gap between students who will "succeed" and those who will not is often evident in first grade; with extra help, struggling students can catch up. Reading clinic director and Azevada's Reading Specialist John Santonastaso says, "As students move into fourth grade and beyond, the reading focus shifts from learning to read, to reading to learn. If students enter fourth grade still having difficulty decoding the words, research suggests that they will experience a great deal of difficulty throughout their school careers. So it's imperative that we catch these students up before they move into the higher grades."

Azevada's teachers noticed student improvement and have commented on how excited students are to go to the reading clinic. The reading clinic provides a win-win situation because students learn to enjoy reading and volunteers learn how to teach and communicate with younger children while earning community service hours.

The Azevada reading clinic is planning to start another session once school starts in the fall and will be looking for new volunteers. If interested, contact Christie at:

Editor's Note:
Christie Chong is an 11th grade student at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont. In order to earn the Girl Scouts Gold Award, she is required to start and manage a community oriented program. Christie initiated her project by asking the school and the reading specialist about starting a reading clinic at Azevada.

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