More Parent Assistants!

by Martina Barbour, Literacy Director

Our classroom literacy assistant program is now in both Julia de Burgos and Hartranft Elementary schools! We have 4 assistants at de Burgos and 2 at Hartranft (pre-Covid, there were nine at de Burgos). This was a decision made as a result of fewer classes at de Burgos and a desire to deepen our literacy work across schools. Our two new assistants are parents at Hartranft Elementary and are supporting kindergarten and second grade there. Part of their training involved shadowing Ms Angie and Ms Tassie, two of our fabulous assistants at de Burgos. We are so excited to be expanding this program and impacting more young readers.

All of our parent assistants say their favorite part of the job is helping a child reach a reading goal. Recognizing a letter, successfully identifying a letter sound, or even choosing a book that captivates the child’s attention are successes that feel important and make a child proud. Seeing this pride on a child’s face is rewarding. Our assistants feel that the trust they build with students creates an environment where children feel confident to make mistakes, work through those challenges, and succeed.

Ms Beatrice in 2nd grade

Teachers at de Burgos were surveyed in December about experiences with their classroom assistants. 100% reported that their assistant has been extremely helpful in providing literacy support, that they have seen improvements in the reading skills of the children that work with their assistant, and that their assistant has been very helpful with family engagement support. A few highlights from the survey include: “I am so grateful for my assistant! She helps make my job easier and we are a great match. We are able to provide our students with the skills they need to succeed”; “I am very grateful for this program”; “My assistant excels in what she does. She is very dedicated and responsible”; “My assistant is great with the students. She has fantastic management skills and is able to make connections with the students and they want to work hard for her.”

Ms Tassie in Kindergarten

In February, our assistants provided valuable Spanish language translation at parent conferences. This support that they provide allows for parents to be seen, heard, and valued, and a part of their child’s educational experience. We also had book giveaway tables and at two schools and conducted a bilingual parent survey. The results were very promising with most participants sharing that their children regularly bring home school library books, that they enjoy reading as a family, and that they are interested in opportunities for play. We also found that participants reported, on average, having 10-25 books in the home, which is up from previous evidence of 0-10 books.  

Ms Angie in 1st grade

Building on this momentum, we’re excited that Read by 4th is training all of our literacy staff to become Reading Captains! Reading Captains are literacy ambassadors for their neighborhoods, providing resources to families and neighbors. Reading Captains aim to help grow strong readers in their communities, as we believe that literacy is a key to success and joy! Our Literacy Assistants all live in the Fairhill neighborhood and will be able to extend their knowledge and passion beyond the schools into the communities. A hope for our program is to empower our staff to further engage with other families and emphasize the importance of reading, as well as tips, strategies, and support for that process. 

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