As a third grader, I was taken out of class to sit with volunteers to practice reading. Unfortunately, my memories were not great. I always had an an unsettled feeling surrounding reading. Even into my early adult life. I do not remember being teased by classmates but I do remember the shame I felt having to leave my normal classroom to read with special strangers. I felt excluded, stupid, and came to really dislike the room with the blue door. 25 years later, I still remember the walk down the hallway to the room with the blue door.
As an adult, I have been able to create positive feelings for myself about books and reading. The wonder of story telling is such a great treasure. After hearing about SMART, I wanted to create new positive memories for myself and children regarding reading.
I volunteered with SMART in Bend, Oregon for three years, and look forward to going back. I met some wonderful kids who, by the time the year was over, made great strides in their reading skills. I have seen two of the kids I read with in town and both have come up to say ‘hi’ and given me hugs. I am so thankful for SMART giving me a second chance to create positive memories with reading at center of it all.