Team Read expanded to Highline Public Schools in Fall 2016 with a pilot program at Hazel Valley Elementary, and then began serving students at Midway Elementary in 2017. With our 5-year anniversary just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to check in with the principals, Casey Jeannot and Debbie Ellis, to see how Team Read has played a role in helping students become stronger, more confident readers.

Why did you want Team Read to come to your school?

Casey Jeannot (Hazel Valley): We had been partnering with other local organizations for after school programming. The tutoring was with some of our paraeducators with oversight from myself and the support of a language learning specialist. Based on the number of students who needed the program, we had limited adult instruction available. When we had the opportunity to provide more one-on-one time for our students and utilize other students in the district to have this reader/coach pairing, I was like “Yes! Where do I sign up? How can I be part of this?” We know through research that small groups or one-on-one work can lead to better outcomes and that was a huge plus.

Debbie Ellis (Midway): In our area, there’s a big need for community-centered programs. Our families are constantly asking for after school programming partnerships. We’re in a very unique situation with Midway, Pacific, and Mt. Rainier all in the same environment and there was a very underutilized partnership between the different schools. It’s an incredible opportunity. There’s a big lift to keep programs going and to do all the training. Having Team Read take on that work is great.

How has Team Read benefitted students and their families?

CJ: For me, it’s the personalization and the relationship that can be formed between the coach and their student. The kids look forward to coming to Team Read and the parents appreciate this little gift of having a young adult who wants to come in and support their child. The consistency Team Read is able to offer over a long period of time is rare.

DE: Students who are behind grade level are oftentimes reluctant to read at home with their families and parents frequently express that frustration. It feels like a relief that somebody else is doing some of that extra reading with their child. And having somebody who looks like them, speaks their language, and make cultural connections with has been a great addition as well.

What’s changed this year with remote learning? Has Team Read supported students in a different way?

CJ: We aren’t able to provide some of the small group or intensive intervention that we’ve been able to do when we’re in the building. I think for our students to have some one-on-one time has been most beneficial for those who are behind grade level.

DE: We’re seeing a lot of the same benefits. Families can now see the program in action since their students have been working remotely and appreciate it even more now. They see that joyful connection with the teens.

Thanks to Casey, Debbie, and everyone in Highline who has helped
make this year’s virtual program a success!