At Team Read, we talk a lot about our Powerful Pairs – the student readers and teen coaches who work together throughout the school year. But behind every Powerful Pair are two people dedicated to their success – Site Assistants and Site Coordinators. These essential leaders are the “heart and soul” of Team Read because they implement the program, build community, and support both readers and coaches at each program site. And most importantly, they’re passionate about Team Read’s dual mission of providing support to young students and a positive first job experience for teens.

Site Assistants are teen leaders who implement the Team Read program by supporting reading coaches and tracking student-coach progress. Aya Sahib, a Site Assistant at Sanislo Elementary in Seattle, has worked with Team Read for five years. She said the program resonated with her because she received a lot of help to learn English when she was new to the U.S. and wanted to give back.

“So many people put effort in so that I could learn English, and I really wanted to … pass that on, and so that’s why Team Read really spoke to me,” she said. Sahib learned English in fifth grade and, by eighth grade, was tutoring other kids as a Team Read reading coach.

Here’s what she had to say about being a Team Read Site Assistant in this video from our recent “Here We Grow” Spring Fundraising campaign.

“I’ve really been able to see Team Read’s dual mission of making sure that like both the coaches and the students are getting something out of it,” she noted. “It’s a tutoring program for young kids, but the bigger picture is that so many people are learning from it … Being able to provide that experience to a coach is a really big deal.”

Sahib said her role as a Site Assistant has helped her develop her leadership capabilities. “I was really proud of managing four students and still being able to get the message across to them but to also build a connection with each one of them.”

Site Coordinators are also critical to Team Read’s success. As the “adult in charge,” they provide direct support to reading coaches, manage both teens and elementary students, and supervise coach-student progress. For example, Emily Galindo, a Site Coordinator at Lake City, says her experience at Team Read has inspired her education and career path. Now a senior graduating from Seattle Pacific University this spring, Galindo was a Team Read coach at Hazel Valley Elementary in Highline when she was in high school in 2016.

Team Read Site Coordinator Emily Galindo

“It was a really fun experience with my friends, but I also loved connecting with the students,” she said. Last year, Galindo began working for the Seattle nonprofit program TIPS — Tutors Improving Public Schools — which rekindled her interest in working with young students.

“It reminded me of my time with Team Read and how much I like working with kids,” she said. In addition to working for TIPS this school year, she is the Team Read Site Coordinator at West Seattle Elementary. She plans to continue her education and is interested in becoming a school psychologist.

Galindo said that helping coaches connect has been challenging at times because she has a group of “very shy” coaches who meet virtually. So she’s adjusted her sessions to develop new ways to help the group open up and share questions and concerns.

She said that seeing young readers succeed and the teen coaches grow is rewarding, and her role as a Site Coordinator has shaped her as a leader and educator.

“Coaches and students teach me just as much as I teach them,” she said. “I’m always asking for their opinions because their feedback is what helps me become an intentional teacher. I want to know what’s working well and what’s not.”