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January - October 2007

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October 10, 2007 - 2:06 p.m.

And my Heart Grew 3 Sizes Bigger

Even though I work full time, I really wanted to volunteer as much as I could at Peyton's school this year. One of the activities I signed up for is their Read with Me Program. Each volunteer is given a student who is struggling with their reading, be it basic words, or comprehension, and we go to the school once a week for 20 minutes to read with the child.

I was given a little girl,T, in fifth grade. Last week when I showed up for the first time, the teacher was not very encouraging. She stated that T showed signs of ADHD, lack of socialization and stubbornness when it came to reading. She agreed with me when I mentioned that even just having a conversation with T would be a good starting part in an effort to help her open up more.

T was very friendly to me and didn't seem ashamed at all that she was reading in front of a total stranger. She brought a Curious George book to start, and while she knew most of the words (English isn't her first language), she barely paused for the periods or commas. Also, there was no expression whatsoever in her reading.

As I was reading, I gave her a pencil that I had grabbed out of the resource room, as well as a Create a Pepper dog tag I had bought at Chili's. I was unsure what a fifth grade girl would like as a "prize" for reading that day, but thought the dog tag would be a cool little thing. I also wasn't sure how T handled reading to me or what she thought.

I went back today and T walked in the classroom just before me. She turned as the door was shutting, then did a double take as she saw me and smiled big. I smiled back, pleased that she was happy I came back. We sat down to finish the Curious George book and about halfway through, she reached down the collar of her shirt and lifted out the dog tag. I thought my heart would burst out of my chest.

When we went for the orientation, they said how much having an adult help out meant to the kids, but I didn't really understand till that minute what an impact I could make on this young girl's life. Apparently I'm not as emotionally stunted as I sometimes think.