Team Read Alumna: Michelle Lee

Title/School: Undergraduate Student, University of Washington. Oceanography Major and Marine Biology Minor.

Reading Coach: September 2010-June 2013, Summer of 2010 and 2011

Site Assistant: September 2013-June 2015

Team Read Ambassador: September 2010-June 2015

I can clearly remember when Team Read came to my middle school to recruit new tutors during my eighth-grade year. I initially wanted to join Team Read because I wanted to help the elementary students who were in a situation that I once was in. I remembered how hard it was in elementary school when everything was based on reading, even the story problems in math. I couldn’t ask my parents for help on my homework since they couldn’t understand English that well. I wanted to give the students the helping hand that I wasn’t fortunate enough to have at my elementary school.

Team Read is not only a program where I got to learn how to tutor, but it also indirectly taught me a lot of other skills. Since Team Read was my first job, through the program I could learn what it was like to be employed and take on the responsibilities of having a job. I learned what it felt like to earn a paycheck for the first time through Team Read. Being in Team Read also taught me different communication skills. Through tutoring, I learned how to communicate with different people and how to work with different students. I was also able to gain unforgettable relationships as a reading coach and site assistant, during ambassador meetings, or at other Team Read events. The relationships and bonds I created are probably the most memorable aspect of my Team Read career.

Team Read was a program that made me realize how much I enjoyed teaching. Because of Team Read, I found that I wanted to pursue a career that also involved some form of teaching. It was one of the steps that shaped me into taking the path I am on today in trying to becoming an oceanography researcher and professor. I will never forget the fun times I had in Team Read. I would always walk into the cafeteria at the elementary school greeting the students, site coordinator, and peer tutors with a smile on my face.

Team Read Alumna: Renee Phelps

Job Title/Company: Social Studies Teacher, West Seattle High School

Reading Coach: Fall 2001-Spring 2005

Team Read Ambassador: Fall 2002-Spring 2005

I came to Team Read initially because I was a voracious reader and liked working with kids, but I stayed for the pride I felt in my students’ success, my growing leadership skills and the connections I made with other coaches and staff. Initially, I was so amazed by the level of responsibility that I was given as a coach: I had to help my student learn to read! Team Read was also a fantastic first job experience, and I was so proud of having a job at age 14 that I didn’t mind turning down other opportunities! I really felt like what I was doing was important and valued, which I learned again every year when I received my student’s updated reading levels. Other than working with my students, Ambassador meetings and speaking at fundraisers are some of my favorite memories. Those fundraisers were how I discovered that I liked writing and giving speeches.

It’s hard to put what being a Team Read tutor meant into words. I felt like I was a high school student with a secret identity: typical high school student by day and superhero reading tutor by afternoon! When I looked back after I graduated from college it was much easier to see that working with kids is where I was meant to be. Thanks to Team Read for helping me discover that!

Team Read Alumnus: Marvin Eng

Job Title/Company: Volunteer Engagement Coordinator at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission

Reading Coach:
September 2006 – June 2009
Team Read Ambassador: September 2009 – June 2010
Fun Fact: Marvin is the third person in his family to work for Team Read. His two older sisters were reading coaches for four years and participated in the Ambassador program.

Team Read was my first “job” in high school and helped me develop a better sense of responsibility in my life. Professionally, I learned the basic skills of showing up to my job regardless of how busy I was. It taught me to prioritize and organize my time in order to stick to a commitment and continue coaching each week. I had to learn to come in with the right attitude each day or else my student would be affected by my negative demeanor.

Personally, I learned patience figuring out how to engage with my student and build a relationship with her. We started off as strangers and as the year continued, she was still very reserved towards me. She spoke or shared very little about herself. When she refused to read or talk about it, I realized a lot of times my student was frustrated with her own reading abilities, which caused her to act out. But I knew, If I ever got frustrated with her, we needed to work through what was difficult together. It was hard at times, but every once in a while I would see some growth or some development. On really good days we could actually talk to each other. That was when it got fun, when she finally opened up and trusted that was there to help her.

Team Read Alumna: Rachel DeCordoba

rachel-decordobaJob Title/Company: Analyst at Environment International Ltd. (recent UW grad, B.S. Environmental Science & Resource Management)

Team Read Experience:
Reading coach for 3 years, 2008-2011 (Madrona and Leschi Elementary)
Ambassador for 1 year, 2010-2011 (Leschi Elementary)
Site Assistant for summer 2013 (Olympic Hills Elementary)

In 2008, my freshman year of high school, I began my journey with Team Read as a reading coach – my very first job. I initially applied because I wanted to share my love of reading with younger students, but over the next few years my experience grew beyond what I had previously imagined. I formed mentor/mentee relationships with several elementary students, sharing our hobbies and bits of our lives with one another, tackling tricky vocabulary, and inventing new reading games. After each session, my reading coach friends and I would debrief on the bus ride home, brainstorming everything from fun vocabulary worksheets to new methods for motivating students.

I was thrilled to join Team Read again in 2013 as a site assistant for the newly formed summer reading program. As the point of contact at Olympic Hills Elementary, I oversaw a dozen high school tutors and their student readers in two different classrooms. Each day began with a reading and vocabulary lesson from a teacher at the school, and I found myself so inspired by their teaching methods – the perfect balance of enthusiasm, humor, discipline, reflection, and organization. I have been able to incorporate both the skills I learned as a coach and those I observed in Olympic Hills’ teachers during my time in college and my current position as an environmental consultant.

Team Read has given me an open, supportive, and driven network within which to both help improve students’ reading skills and hone my own leadership and teaching skills. For that, I’m incredibly grateful, and I look forward to seeing how Team Read grows and touches more lives in the years to come.

Team Read Alumnus: Jonathan Ruiz

Job Title: Bilingual Teaching Fellow

Company: Highline Public Schools

I didn’t know it at the time, but my experience ajonathan-ruizs a Team Read reading coach at the age of 16 would be one that would greatly influence my professional trajectory in my adult years. In 2000, during my junior year of high school,  I applied and was hired for a position with Team Read working with 2nd and 3rd grade students at Concord Elementary. As I began to work with my students on a weekly basis, I soon realized that our  literacy sessions were beginning to have an additional positive impact on their literacy performance. My students, whom did not enjoy reading when we started, began to develop an interest for reading two months into our sessions. Witnessing their progress and being present for their aha moments was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It was then that I decided that I wanted to go into education for my professional future.

In my early twenties, I returned to working with elementary school age students as a bilingual paraprofessional at Bailey Gatzert Elementary.  I was happy to learn that the Team Read program was being offered after school for Bailey Gatzert’s 2nd and 3rd graders.  I remember encouraging many of the 2nd and 3rd grade students I worked with to sign up to participate in this great program. Many of them did and increased their reading levels, not to mention that they built great relationships with high school students they would look up to.

After seven years, I applied  and was hired for a position with Seattle University’s Center for Community Engagement as Bailey Gatzert’s Success Coordinator. Through this position, I was able to further support Bailey Gatzert students by coordinating after school programming across all grade levels, and provide support to our partner Team Read site staff and high school reading coaches. Team Read was an essential partner and program offered to our 2nd and 3rd grade students. I was also mesmerized by the fact that many of the Team Read  reading coaches, whom had been Bailey Gatzert alumni and participants of Team Read in their 2nd and 3rd grade years, had returned to support students at their elementary alma mater in a program they were very familiar with.  This is the beauty of the Team Read program.

Currently, I hold a position as a Bilingual Teaching Fellow with Highline Public Schools, and through a partnership with Western Washington University, I’m on my way to earning my teaching certification. I can thank the Team Read program for pointing me in the right direction.  I’m also very excited to learn about Team Read’s expansion into Highline Public Schools, and once I am done with my program, I look forward to supporting Team Read in coming to my future school.

Team Read Alumna: Tran Huynh

tran-meyersJob Title: Assistant Vice President & Relationship Manager
Company: Wells Fargo

I began my work with Team Read when I was 15 years old. My role as a Team Read reading coach represents my first job and proved to be an excellent building block for other employment opportunities throughout high school and beyond. My best friend and I drove to Highland Park Elementary from Franklin High School on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to tutor our 2nd and 3rd grade students. For us, the role of Team Read reading coach enhanced important interpersonal skills like communication, patience and the ability to motivate young students.

Over 15 years later, I have returned to support Team Read as the Vice President of the Board of Directors. I enjoy bringing the perspective and experience of a former reading coach to enhance our discussions and further our mission. I represent Wells Fargo Bank, in my work with Team Read, in my role as Relationship Manager for the Seattle Commercial Banking Office which serves local middle-market businesses. My work with Team Read continues to bring me value in forms of personal growth as well as recognition in my professional network. I can only hope to provide equal value to the Organization and the students that we serve.