The heart and impact of Team Read is reflected in Akiko’s story. Akiko began her journey with Team Read as a student reader in 2nd grade. In 4th grade she had the reading skills and confidence to join the Team Read Reading Leaders program and tutored first graders at Leschi Elementary. She put the lessons that she had learned from her reading coach into practice with her 1st grade student. Akiko’s commitment to Team Read continued when she applied to become a reading coach in 8th grade.  She’s been tutoring ever since at Leschi Elementary.

Akiko is now a senior at Garfield High School and a 5th-year reading coach. She plays on the softball team and loves to hang out with her friends. She has been busy applying to colleges this year and is hoping to study criminal justice. But even with  her busy schedule, every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon you can find Akiko in the cafeteria at Leschi Elementary working with her student Khiel, a 2nd grader who is in Team Read for the first time.

If you ask her about what has kept her working with Team Read for so long you’ll see her eyes light up as she explains, “I love helping students learn to read better, helping them figure out how to sound out words. I’ve got Khiel to start liking to read!” Khiel has no objections. When you ask him what he likes about working with Akiko he says, “She is nice and helps me.” As the pair reads together, Akiko stops to ask questions about the book or to have Khiel sound difficult words.

“Team Read has taught me to work with kids, actually, to work with people with all kinds of backgrounds,” Akiko says. “I’ve made a lot of friends at Team Read.” Khiel jumps in to add enthusiastically,  “So have I!”