One day in eighth grade, Sakura Kishiro walked into her school’s music room to listen to a presentation about joining Team Read as a reading coach. She was immediately excited about the opportunity to start gaining some work experience and Team Read sounded like a meaningful and rewarding first job.

 “I didn’t have any prior experience working with kids. I don’t even have younger siblings, so that first year was sometimes challenging,” Sakura says as she thinks back. “There were days when my student just didn’t want to read. So I focused on getting to know him and building trust and it worked out. By the end of the year his reading improved!” The opportunity to have a skilled job as a high school student made a major impact on Sakura and her future. “It gave me such a good foundation. Professionalism, communication skills, and time management are tools I still use today. When I joined Team Read, I joined a community and so many opportunities opened up. There were internships and job referrals I got throughout college that were linked directly to the skills I developed and connections I made at Team Read.”

Now a UW graduate with an impressive resume, Sakura works in management consulting, helping businesses in various sectors improve their systems and succeed. While at work, she met Meli Gass, who serves on Team Read’s Board of Directors. “When I met Meli at work and she invited me to join the fundraising and communications committee, it seemed meant to be,” Sakura says. “I know nonprofits need to raise money and need community support to do that.” Volunteering at Team Read is the perfect way for Sakura to keep pursuing her interest in education outside of work, and an opportunity to stay connected to the organization that meant so much to her growing up. “The committee is such a great community,” Sakura says. “There are people with so many different backgrounds and experiences with the common goal of supporting Team Read. It truly shows the power of Team Read’s mission.”

When asked what words of wisdom she would share with current and future coaches, Sakura pauses thoughtfully. “This job is so much more than a paycheck. Take it seriously. It can be hard sometimes but there’s so much to gain if you work hard. You’ll make connections and have opportunities. I’m so grateful that I was part of Team Read as a teen.”

Thank you, Sakura, for sharing your story and for everything you give to Team Read!

Are you a Team Read alum with a story to share? We’d love to hear it! Get in touch with us at