By Jasmine Trinh, Team Read Reading Coach

I started as a Team Read coach this school year at Bailey Gatzert. I’ve wanted to be a coach for a while, but my schedule never aligned. So, this year when I was able to be a coach, I was super excited! I wanted to be a reading coach because I liked working with kids. In the past I’ve done teaching positions, and I enjoyed them. However, Team Read stood out to me because of the one-on-one style, which I thought would be more effective at truly helping a student (spoiler: it is more effective). Another part of my desire to work with Team Read was the fact that it’s one of the few paid jobs meant for teens, and the fact that it’s a lower time commitment compared to most jobs. When I was looking for a job this year, I struggled to find one that was paid, in a good location, and had a low enough time commitment for my schedule. But Team Read fit what I was looking for perfectly!

My experience as a coach so far has been wonderful. My reader is in 2nd grade, and at the beginning of this year was in reading level A. As of now, I’ve gotten her up to level D! One of my favorite things about coaching is seeing how much my reader is learning. I’ve been able to see this through my time with her, like how her reading level has been rising, but also through what my site coordinator tells me. Just the other day, I learned that my reader improved substantially on a test my site coordinator had given her! It was amazing for me to realize that my reader had really come a long way since the start of that year, and that I was the one affecting that.

Another great part of my experience is getting to connect with my reader past just reading. At the beginning of the year, I could tell my reader was a bit nervous and shy. However, now we have so much fun every reading session! I’ve been able to notice this especially with how she acts around me compared to around other coaches, or even our site coordinator. For instance, I noticed she was much quieter when we had a new coach joining us one day. While I do hope she can start feeling comfortable around more people quicker, I also am grateful for the fact that she can feel that level of comfort with me.

I’ve also learned a lot about myself through coaching. The most obvious one is that I actually enjoy teaching. When I started out with Team Read, I didn’t really have a passion for teaching. I knew I enjoyed it to an extent, but I was mostly doing Team Read for the reasons I mentioned earlier. Through coaching I’ve realized that I truly enjoy every moment I get with my student. I love watching her grow, seeing her fly through pages when I know she wouldn’t have been able to do so just a month prior. It’s a truly fun program, and I’m so glad that I chose to do it.

I’ve learned a ton about our schooling system as well. One thing I’ve been able to see is how our schooling system affects certain people differently. I’ve known that our schooling system is unequal, but I’ve truly been able to observe that through Team Read. At my site, I believe that all of our students are people of color. Many, like my reader, are ELL (English language learners) readers. Being able to see that has shown me how flawed our schooling system is. All children deserve the ability to read proficiently, and the fact that it’s so unbalanced racially is unacceptable.

Overall, Team Read is a great program, both for the students who get invaluable one-on-one time to improve their reading skills and for the teen coaches who get great life experience in a paid (or volunteer) setting. If you can’t tell, I really like this program! I’m so glad I decided to do Team Read over a more traditional job as I’m getting a super unique experience while also making an impact in someone’s life.

Jasmine Trinh is a senior at Garfield High School in Seattle, and coaches at Bailey Gatzert Elementary.