Karrington Ogans remembers third grade clearly. She wanted to read mystery books, especially the Cam Jansen series. She saw other students reading these books, but she struggled as a reader herself.
“It was very discouraging,” she says. “I knew I was smart, but I felt like I was bad at reading.”
Karrington froze when she got to a hard word in a book. She often quit in the middle of a story. When her parents encouraged her to persevere, she threw tantrums. It was painful to watch other kids enjoying the books she wanted to read.
But when she became a student in Team Read, things started to change. Karrington remembers her tutor from Garfield High School as helpful and friendly.
“I looked forward to going. My tutor was very supportive. She helped me slow down and say words. She helped build my reading skills.”
Most importantly, her tutor reminded her that reading is fun, says Karrington. Karrington’s tutor noticed her interest in mystery books. Together, they worked hard to improve Karrington’s reading level. They read a lot of books. They practiced vocabulary skills. By the time Karrington was done with Team Read, she was devouring any mystery she could find, including the Cam Jansen books.
“Karrington really looked up to the big kids [in Team Read],” recalls her mother, Nannette Ogans. “She wanted to go to Garfield and she was excited to work with Garfield students.”
These days, Karrington is swamped with college application deadlines, class work and homework. The Garfield High School senior also participates in four college-readiness programs and runs track for her school. Busy as she is, Karrington still makes time for Team Read.
This past fall, Karrington worked with student reader Lauryn at an elementary school on Capitol Hill. The pair completed 20 books during the first semester of Team Read, including many mystery books they both enjoyed.
She and Lauryn are a “perfect match,” says Karrington. “Lauryn is like me at her age. I know exactly how she feels.”
As they read together at a recent session, Lauryn leaned over and hugged her tutor. “Karrington helps me with words I really need help with. Sometimes I want to give up, but I go back and try again … Karrington is really, really awesome.”
For her part, Karrington is proud to share the Team Read experience she had as a student. “I didn’t want to stop giving back to the program. I wanted to give back to a little kid.”