Powerful Schools Presents Powerful People: Jennifer Selby
This article was originally posted in Rainier Valley Post.
SVP has been partnering with Powerful Schools for over 3 years and has invested a total of $160,000 as of fall 2011. Over the last year alone, Powerful Schools was able to serve 3,500 kids with 68% of them meeting or exceeding the reading growth goals for their grade level. Their impact is not limited to the children: their parents have a 90% participation rate in school based activities.
RAINIER VALLEY – Jennifer Selby (above right) – a Powerful Schools’ Reading Tutor at Hawthorne Elementary – is also a Stanford Graduate School of Business alumna and mother of two.
She became passionate about tutoring young children after she taught her own sons, Justin, 8, and Cameron, 6, how to read.
“It was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done!” she exclaimed.
After volunteering in their classrooms for a couple years, Jennifer wanted to find more opportunities to help local children. She did a lot of research before she happened upon Powerful Schools through Social Venture Partners.
“Being a Powerful Schools’ tutor was a dream volunteer assignment,” said Jennifer. “The program is so well organized and in two and a half hours I can really make a difference and see the progress in the young students I tutor.”
Jennifer began tutoring for Powerful Schools in the fall of 2011, and while most of the Powerful Schools’ tutors are paid, all of Jennifer’s time was volunteered. Twice a week, for two and a half hours each day, Jennifer tutored first through third grade students at Hawthorne Elementary. She says her favorite part of tutoring was seeing the progress in the young readers and seeing students, especially ELL (English language learners) students, go from only knowing the alphabet, to reading books by the end of the program.
Powerful Schools’ Learning Intervention Program provides students who are struggling to read and score significantly lower than their peers on reading/comprehension testing 30 minutes of one-on-one reading tutoring a day, multiple days a week, throughout the school year. All tutoring is provided by a caring adult, trained to support students in establishing foundational reading skills. In most cases, students work with the same tutor all year, providing them with consistent support and a strong mentoring relationship.
One of Jennifer’s favorite tutoring stories is about a young boy named Bao, a bilingual student that was struggling to read. She tutored Bao twice a week and says she has never seen a harder worker. He often requested that he come to tutoring more than twice a week because he enjoyed it so much. At the end of the school year, Bao had become an avid and enthusiastic reader and showed his appreciation by writing Jennifer a note and drawing her a picture.
Powerful Schools is an award winning non-profit that has been working to close the achievement gap by creating partnerships with local public schools for over 20 years. Through literacy programs, arts and after-school classes, Powerful Schools’ works with more than 4,000 children and their families in 12 Seattle and South King County elementary schools and five CDSA preschools.
The “Powerful People” series is a way for Powerful Schools to highlight – through the Rainier Valley Post – some of the work its talented students, instructors and volunteers are accomplishing in the Rainier Valley.