In this two-part series, we talk with literacy coaches Jeri Harris and Wanda Lofton about their experience working with Team Read and what has inspired them to continue this important work for so many years.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with Wanda and Jeri for many years and they are true ‘Reading Warriors.’ I call them Reading Warriors because they care so deeply about children and literacy and they work tirelessly to support the students and coaches in Team Read. And they fight for what they believe is truly important in helping children become better readers and our coaches become better tutors and mentors.”
-Maureen Massey, Executive Director
1. How long have you been working with Team Read?
Jeri: I started working with Team Read in 1998. I was a 1st and 2nd grade teacher at Mt. Rainier View Elementary School and my students participated in the program. Some of my students returned to Rainier View as tutors. They shared stories about their love for Team Read and their connections with the students they worked with. Later when I was a Literacy Coach, I connected with Team Read again. Team Read is a very important part of my story.
Wanda: As a Literacy Coach in the Curriculum and Instruction department of Seattle Public Schools, I was often engaged in meeting with Team Read staff for more than six years. These meetings focused on reviewing Team Read, assessing program needs, and developing ideas for activities and tutor trainings, as well as participating in Team Read community events, such as the Family Literacy Night.
2. What inspired you to be a part of this program?
Jeri: Team Read has always been close to my heart because I can see the effect that the program has on both the students and teens. I love to ask teachers what they notice about the changes, successes, and motivation, and how those things influence student performance in the classroom. Now that I am retired, working directly with the program is very fulfilling to me. I get to do what I love. I develop curriculum, provide assistance to the program in my capacity as a Site Monitor, and I get to work with the students and the teens that I love.
Wanda: I have enjoyed many years of teaching in SPS. The work with the students was satisfying and rewarding. Team Read offered the opportunity to continue the work that I love: teaching children and teen tutors, utilizing the skills acquired during my teaching career, and nurturing the academic growth of the students and teen tutors.
3. How has the reading coach training evolved over the years?
Jeri: I really enjoyed choosing and researching the books that Team Read bought for the students. As part of that, I also supported adding to and developing materials for the Power Reader Journals. Team Read is constantly updating. The curriculum is based on student needs. They use surveys and data to make informed decisions about next steps and changes in the program. The staff provides excellent training for Team Read and matches Site Monitors with schools that best fit them.
Wanda: The Team Read curriculum has undergone several revisions in recent years, becoming more rigorous and engaging in strategies and activities designed to improve students’ reading ability. The coach training has incorporated these changes, with modeling and practice built into the training. These changes include foundational reading skills, such as phonics, and questioning cards to engage students in higher order thinking skills to improve comprehension. Teen tutors also use lesson planning forms to help guide their next steps with students. Tutors are provided with immediate feedback by Site Coordinators and Site Monitors to assist them in their work with students.
Stay tuned! Read more about Jeri and Wanda’s work with Team Read in our December newsletter.