Story from:

Amy Brown, Multnomah County

Having volunteered (and worked) with SMART for 11 years, numerous stories come to mind. However the one about Marcus stands out…

Marcus was a “tough kid” who didn’t want to be bothered with SMART. He was quite happy in his art class (thank you very much), and he seemed rather annoyed when I arrived to read with him. Marcus was older than most SMART kids, and a slow reader…initially. However he knew how to “sound out” words and I could see how good he felt when he did. After a couple weeks of dragging himself to SMART, and apparently enjoying the reading experience, I finally asked, “so Marcus, do you like to read?” A quiet, “yes,” he replied. “So next week, when I come to read with you, will you be excited to see me?” Another quiet, “yes,” with a smile, was his response. From that day on, when I arrived to take Marcus to the SMART room, he literally jumped out of his chair and ran to read with me. The speed and flow of his reading increased dramatically over the course of the school year, and by the last day of the program, Marcus was so engrossed in books that he insisted on finishing the one he was reading to me, before enjoying treats with the other kids at their year-end SMART party. What a transformation.

The reading engagement and confidence that SMART instills in children, although not always as visible as it was with Marcus, helps set young students on course for success in school and life. Cheers to SMART for 20 years of making a meaningful difference in the lives of tens of thousands of Oregon’s children!

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