My SMART experience started in the late fall of 1994 at Applegate Elementary School in Portland on a tour sponsored by the Education Committee of the Portland City Club. The principal, Michelann Ortloff, gave such an impressive talk about the transformation of this school that I asked how I could get involved as a volunteer. Michelann introduced me to the SMART coordinator and my first student, a young kindergartner named Ashley.
I am now entering my 18th year, and every year the students (often repeats from the prior year), create a very special experience. I’ve fount its more about the relationship than the actual reading. Most years I have committed to 1 ½ or 2 hours in order to read with more students from different grade levels. So far, I have volunteered at four different schools: three in Portland and one in Beaverton, where we live: Applegate (closed in 2004), James John (2004-2008), Sitton (2008-09), and McKinley in Beaverton (2009 to the present). I talked my wife Jean into joining me at James John in 2007, and we have volunteered together ever since. It has been a wonderful experience.