Reading Coach Bio: Kiara Thomas

Years in Team Read: 3

Why she became a reading coach: I was a great reader as a kid. Reading came easy to me and I thought that’s how it was for all kids. But I quickly learned that reading doesn’t come easy for some kids. That made me so sad! Since I was such a great reader, I wanted to help other kids become better readers.

Tutoring Tip: Always be patient and try to connect with your students on a personal level. That way they are comfortable with you.

Future plans: Currently attending college to become a teacher.

My name is Kiarra and I was a Team Read tutor for three years. I want to tell you about my student Myla.  When I met Myla she was in 2nd grade. While her classmates were making steady progress in reading, her teacher said Myla was stuck.

My job: get Myla unstuck.

Myla forgot basic facts from the books she read. She cried when she couldn’t figure out vocabulary words, and she often picked detective books off the shelf that were too hard for her to read.

Myla’s mom is a single mom who works all day. Finding time to read with Myla is hard. In school, Myla’s teacher put her in a special reading group, but she still wasn’t making much progress.

I met Myla last October. We worked together in the library at her school. At first, I was nervous to be her reading tutor. I was just a high school student! I thought that I was too young to help. I didn’t feel like I had any authority. I also didn’t have any experience as a teacher.

That first day, Myla sat down next to me and rolled her eyes. She didn’t want to be in Team Read. She didn’t want a tutor. Before we even started, she looked bored. I got nervous. I was worried that the adults in the room would see that I wasn’t a good tutor. I was afraid they would kick me out of Team Read if I didn’t do a good job.

When I asked Myla to pick a book, she groaned. When I tried to work on vocabulary with her, she started to play hide and seek behind the bookshelves. I’m a calm person. I’m usually good with little kids, but I began to wonder if I could help this girl. I hate to say it, but Myla was getting on my nerves.

The only thing Myla seemed to like about me was my iPod. “I looooove Justin Bieber,” Myla told me.


I’m going to confess something now: I’m also a BIG Justin Bieber fan. I told Myla she could listen to a Justin Bieber song on my iPod if we did a little reading first. It worked. Myla read a book at her reading level, and then I let her listen to a song on my earphones. That’s when I pulled out my secret weapon …

one_direction“There’s this band called One Direction,” I told Myla. “If we read some more, I’ll let you listen to a really good One Direction song.”

Myla and I realized we had very similar music tastes, and we started to talk about music every time we got together. I talked to Myla like she was my friend, and she started to share her secrets with me. She told me about school. She told me about boys she liked. She even confessed when she got in trouble for not doing a chore at home. Now when Myla came to Team Read, she ran right over and gave me a hug.

Myla and I worked together twice a week from October to May. We laughed a lot. We listened to music. We played a lot of games. We read a lot of books she liked and we talked about those books in a casual way, the same way we talked about Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez. Myla’s reading got better. We started to read chapter books. She started to try harder vocabulary levels. Myla stopped crying during our sessions and I kept getting more hugs.

Myla changed in Team Read, and so did I. I’d created so many tutoring games for Myla and my previous Team Read students, I had a game for every situation. When I ask questions about a book, I do it in a way that isn’t boring or hard or scary. I make reading fun. I used to dream about being a teacher, now I know I can do it.