Team Read Alumna: Sarah Arellano

Job Title/Company: 2nd Grade Teacher, Seattle Public Schools

Team Read Coach: 2000-2001, Dearborn Park Elementary School

I worked with Team Read in 2000-2001 at Dearborn Park Elementary. I was very proud to have that as my first job and to be able to work with students. It was wonderful to know that we were helping students by reading with them and by providing different reading strategies. Even after I finished high school, I told my relatives who were attending high school about Team Read and encouraged them to join.

Working for Team Read made me realize that I wanted to be a teacher. I enjoyed working in an environment where everyone is learning something new every day. Now that I am a teacher, I am doing the same thing with my students who need additional support in reading. I am glad that Team Read is still around helping many students who need one-on-one support in reading.

This summer, I will be the Site Coordinator for Team Read at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, where I teach. I am excited to work with students who will be working hard to improve their reading skills. Some of them will be my current students, which makes it even more enjoyable for me!

Team Read Alumna: Itzchel Bazan

Education: B.A. in Sociology, Minor in Non-profit Management, University of Washington/ Aspiring Fundraiser

Reading Coach: 2008-2009

Reading Leaders Site Assistant: 2010-2011

I signed up for Team Read not knowing what to really expect. At that time in my life I was 16, and unsure what I wanted to do with my future—but I knew I wanted to bring forth social change in my community. As a first generation American, person of color, and a woman, I was familiar with inequitable social structures that made an impact on my learning and future. I was determined to achieve my personal academic success, and along the way tutor students from my neighborhood at Concord Elementary School in South Park. I chose to work at this location because it was a vibrant, welcoming, and mostly Latino community that had a demand for Spanish/English tutors.

My tutoring experience was typical. Students were hesitant to read during the first few weeks, but through praise and encouragement my students started to develop a new relationship with reading. They connected with characters in the books, which increased their overall empathy, cultivated a positive relationship with their reading coach that taught them it was okay to ask for help, and most importantly it sparked an interest in reading. As weeks progressed, many students went from backlashing and refusing to read, to getting excited to read to their coach. Watching mentorships flourish made me love my first job.

Now, recently graduated from the University of Washington, I want to continue the legacy of nonprofits by maximizing their impact on the public through necessary dialogue, and strategic methods of funding vital programs.

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.