DENVER -- If you give a child a book, you have given them the world. And if you read that book to them, even better.
Research has found the kids that grow into the best readers are exposed to as many as 30-million more words by the time they start school than kids who have less success at reading and writing.
That research is the inspiration behind the Each One, Teach One program teacher Mary Ann Bash created and is using at Denver’s Marie Greenwood Academy.
“I said I’m not willing to stand by and let some children struggle,” Bash said, but she knew early on she was going to face a staffing challenge. “The conclusion was that our schools, as they are staffed now, could not close what came to be known as the 30-million word gap.”
To overcome the staffing problem, Bash found an army of parent volunteers like Evelia Soriano and Anabel Caballero to head up the small groups that make the program so successful.
“They learn and they enjoy at the same time,” Soriano said. “It teaches many techniques as to how to write words better, listening to the sound, things you never stop to think about.”
“I recommend this for everyone. I wish every school had it,” said Caballero. “My little one, she’s 11, and she feels so confident approaching to people and introducing herself and start talking, start a conversation.”
The program is so successful and popular, many of the students who graduate from the program at the end of fifth grade come back to help the younger kids in the program.
“When I was little, I always wanted to teach a book I was interested in but I didn't know it would be this soon,” said sixth grader Alyssandra Greene, who spends the last 45 minutes of her school day helping third graders. “This has helped me because now I have a bigger and stronger vocabulary and it’s just easier to pronounce words now.”
The program isn’t just about literacy either. The garden at Marie Greenwood Academy was inspired by the Each One, Teach One program and helps the kids tie science and community service into their reading lessons.
But Mary Ann says what really helps keep the program going is the parental involvement, and she hopes to see more of it.
“Many of our parents drop their children off and they go back home and wait for their children to come home,” she said. “We need to bring them in, engage them, value them, teach them.”