By Danielle Lankford, Communications Specialist
When Brayden* came to Guadalupe School to start the sixth grade, he was at a third grade reading level. But, it wasn’t because he didn’t enjoy reading or wasn’t good at it - he simply did not fully understand the language.
Brayden came from a family that speaks Spanish at home, and just like anyone who tries to sit in a class taught in a foreign language, he was doing his best just to keep up.
At Guadalupe School, our objective is to take students just like Brayden who tend to fall behind their more affluent peers academically due to socioeconomic circumstances and language barriers, but are just as talented, intelligent and eager to learn. Our classroom model uses small classes managed by a teacher and a paraprofessional who are able to give the support our students need. With two professionals in each room, children like Brayden can receive one-on-one tutoring to catch up and excel in school.
With Brayden’s own dedication and the help of his tutor, Mr. Ocampo, he worked hard to practice reading daily. Sometimes, Brayden would become frustrated when he could not pronounce a word in English just right, but he said Mr. Ocampo made reading fun using funny voices and engaging him in stories that interested him.
His favorite genre, he said, is biographies. Brayden likes to read about people like Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and his personal hero - basketball legend Michael Jordan. These people inspired him to persevere and stick with his reading practice, and to set his own goals. He told his teachers he wants to be at a sixth grade reading level before he leaves Guadalupe School.
After one year of receiving extra support and encouragement, Brayden is almost there. The last time he was tested, he had jumped TWO full grade levels in reading comprehension - a result that impressed himself and left his teachers in awe.
With all that hard work, Brayden says he has learned how important it is to stay determined and set his own goals so that he can make the most out of his education. He even told me a story he learned reading all those biographies with Mr. Ocampo. He read that in high school, his hero Michael Jordan, didn’t quite make the cut for the varsity basketball team, but he didn’t give up. His setback inspired him to keep practicing diligently until he achieved his dream.
And, just like MJ, we at Guadalupe School know that Brayden - and all of our students - have the drive and the smarts to accomplish great things in his future, despite where he started out.
* Names have been changed to protect student confidentiality.