Alumni Spotlight: Meet Annabella Sherman

Job Title and Company: Education & Library Sales Assistant, Penguin Random House

Education: Whitman College, B.A. in Psychology & B.A. in Sociology, 2017

Team Read Experience: 2013 Reading Coach, Broadview Thomson

My passion for reading began at a young age, when I was often found biking home from the library with a backpack full of series paperbacks. Though I have since moved on to titles such as The Circle by Dave Eggers and Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, the speed at which I devour books has not.

Prior to Team Read, I took for granted my ability to read such books and at such a fast pace. Working at Team Read inspired me to share my passion for reading with others. In my current job I am passionate about bringing to others the same access to books that I received as a child. Reading and literacy are fundamental skills, and I will never forget seeing my Second Grade Team Read buddy read a book all by himself.

Summer Intern Maddy Hoffman: Building Reading and Life Skills

Team Read’s partnership with Teens in Public Service (TIPS) brought Maddy Hoffman’s energy and enthusiasm to our expanded summer program at MLK Elementary. As we say goodbye (and thank you!) to Maddy this week, we asked about her experience with Team Read’s staff, coaches, student readers, and families.

Why is helping to educate others important to you?
My recent history class reminded me how important it is to learn from the past so we can become part of a more tolerant, caring future. That takes life skills that children served by Team Read may not otherwise have opportunities to build. I worked with kids this summer who were incredibly passionate about a simple activity, like working together on a reading game. They were having fun and improving their reading, and at the same time learning bigger life skills, like how to collaborate and think critically.

How did you support the parents of Team Read students?
One of my responsibilities was to create weekly newsletters for parents of readers. Our goal was to provide families with an understanding of what their children were learning, and then suggest activities to extend that learning beyond our program and into the home. When kids see that their families value education, they are more likely to value it, too.

What was the most powerful experience you had this summer?
During an enrichment activity, I helped a girl put on an anklet she had made, and she said it reminded her of a house arrest bracelet. That really took me off guard, because I didn’t know what that was at her age. The experience gave me a peek into the types of situations some kids are exposed to. It made me feel immensely grateful and motivated me to be my best self when I’m with the kids.

Is there a specific skill that your Team Read experience helped you develop?
I will take with me the skill of being flexible. Sometimes kids don’t want to do certain activities, or they do it in the “wrong” way, so learning how to turn a negative situation into a positive one was important to me. Trusting your instincts about how to move forward when plans change – I think that will be key to my attaining success in the future.

New ED Melissa Pailthorp: Initial Impressions and a Look Ahead

I assumed an “appropriately slow” summer on-ramp when I joined Team Read in June. I was both surprised and excited to learn this is not the Team Read way! Instead, days have been packed with dynamic programming in schools and libraries, teens choosing to spend most of their vacation coaching younger students, and alumni returning to Team Read to serve in various capacities: mentoring more junior coaches, assisting with District summer programs, and taking on special projects to further strengthen Team Read. This was not a sleepy summer, rather, one carefully designed to support one-to-one reading, multi-faceted exploration, and, with equal intentionality, FUN!

And that was just one revelation in my first 60 days. Another was discovering the diverse range of people who readily assert that Team Read helps all of us to educate kids well.  Team Read kids and teen coaches, teachers, building leaders, district experts, board members, long-term supporters – and even one Team Read alum I just happened to meet in Canada – all underscored for me the depth and breadth of Team Read’s impact. I knew when I joined Team Read that the effect on teens and younger kids was powerful, but I didn’t fully foresee the dynamic, extensive web of Team Read’s reach.

The comment of one teen Site Assistant sums up well what I think is true for many. “Team Read, I believe has been the single most influential thing I have been a part of…I also feel that it has brought me closer to my community, and I learned about myself.” It’s comments like this that make me realize I’m both extremely lucky and proud to be leading Team Read through its next steps and growth.

These experiences fuel my excitement for Fall. We’re recruiting another group of teen coaches. We’re finalizing our site plans and we’re readying the runway to launch the academic year. We’ve added some new board members this summer and we will be working in earnest this year on strengthening our connection to Team Read alumni. Please watch for opportunities to join us and reach out if you’d like to hear more!

Team Read Alumna Shirley Xu

School/major: Columbia University BS in Chemical Engineering, expected 2019

Team Read experience:
2010-15: Teen Coach, Team Read Ambassador
2015-17: Event Volunteer
2018: Summer Office Staff

I loved being a reading coach at Team Read! It was really rewarding to see students improve and move up book levels, and they never failed to make me smile.

Team read was my first job ever. I learned patience, and how to guide a reader toward understanding without giving them the answer. I’m now a tutor for STEM classes – including Chemistry, Biology, and Math. The skills I developed as a Teen Coach help me be effective with fellow college students.

Friendship and Reading Continue at Library Site for School-Year Pair

It’s the first day of the Team Read Summer Program, but Rebecca and Jay’len are already talking a mile a minute.

Rebecca, a high school junior, and Jay’len, a third-grader this coming fall, were paired in Team Read this past school year. Together, the pair made big strides in reading, and they were excited to have the chance to work together again.

“I want to read a lot this summer!” said Jay’len.

“I’m excited to work with Jay’len again,” Rebecca said with a big smile. “I want to build off the work we were doing during the school year.” In particular, Rebecca plans to work on focus and comprehension strategies, to help Jay’len read the more challenging books that have sparked his interest.

“Jay’len likes to read about Clifford the Big Red Dog, football … any sports really … and barbershops,” Rebecca noted about her Team Read student.

“It’s true,” Jay’len said. “I like barbershops a lot!”

Rebecca and Jay’len are one of 60 reading pairs teamed at Seattle Public Libraries this summer as part of the SPL-Team Read partnership, now in its seventh year. Students and families receive free reading support twice per week, for two hours each session, through the end of July, and teens have a summer employment opportunity that continues to build their teaching skills.

On the first day of the Team Read Summer Program at a local library in the Central District, Jay’len was thrilled to learn that every student would go home with a free book, courtesy of SPL. Jay’len picked a junior novel version of one of his favorite movies, Coco.

“It’s so good!” Jay’len said, clutching his new book. Seconds later, he and Rebecca were hard at work reading and laughing.