West Dallas Community School

From “Bad at Reading” to “Reading Machine”

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At the beginning of the year, Class 1 student, Christian, struggled with his reading. He lacked motivation and had decided that he was, “bad at reading.” According to his teacher, Miss MaryElise Torp-Pedersen, Christian participated as little as possible during Language Arts time in class. “This is why I chose to have him work with a tutor,” says Miss Torp-Pedersen.

Robert Taylor, a long-time volunteer, tutor, and former Shepherd, was assigned to Miss Torp-Pedersen’s class and started tutoring Christian in the Fall of 2015. Every week Robert comes at the assigned time and heads to Miss Torp-Pedersen’s class to pick up Christian. They sit on a hallway bench or find an open tutoring room and go through Christian’s selected books to read for the week.

Somewhere towards the beginning of the year, Robert told Christian that he was a “reading machine.” “He started telling everyone ‘I’m a reading machine!’ This was a huge turning point for Christian,” says Miss Torp-Pedersen, “He has become confident in his reading, and much more willing to participate in class.” One of the best things about tutoring is that it motivates Christian to practice the books he wants to read ahead of time. This means he is reading all week! Even the process of choosing a book requires him to read. “Christian loves tutoring,” says Miss Torp-Pedersen, “He comes in every Tuesday morning asking, ‘Is my tutor coming today?’”

Christian’s love and aptitude for reading have grown substantially over this school year. Many of our students struggle similarly and are in need of the kind of attention and consistent encouragement that Robert has so graciously provided to Christian by giving of his time and talents. Tutors provide our teachers with that extra resource needed to help students succeed and develop confidence in their abilities. And the blessings are not only reserved for our students and staff.

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“Tutoring at West Dallas Community School has given me the chance to witness God’s transformative and redemptive work firsthand,” says Robert Taylor. “In one hour on Tuesday afternoons I am able to see a young life grow and flourish at a place upon which God’s presence so obviously rests – what a blessing!  WDCS is humbling and awe-inspiring in and of itself, and to actively contribute towards its mission as a tutor is an honor beyond measure.”

While the effects of volunteering at WDCS are far reaching and often only manifest themselves years later, many of our teachers witness stories like Christian’s every day. If you or someone you know are interested in volunteering at WDCS and making a difference in the lives of students like Christian, contact our Director of Volunteers, Susan Ervien, at servien@wdcschool.org or 214.231.2454.