Meet Our Pairs

Shaifa & Michael

After a challenging school year turned on its head due to Covid, Shaifa and her sister Somaira enrolled in Community Reading Buddies. From the first session, Shaifa, a rising 3rd grader, connected with her mentor Michael.

Michael incentivized Shaifa to complete new literacy activities with games of “Would you rather?” and promises to introduce her to a new fantasy book. Each session, Michael challenged her just a little bit more.

By the end of the eight weeks, Shaifa grew by seven months in literacy! And what inspired Michael? When he was learning to read, he says that he really struggled and wanted to give back.

At the end, he said, “I left every session feeling super happy and really proud of Shaifa.” Shaifa hopes to get Michael as a mentor again!

“Every day, Shaifa was very excited for Reading Buddies and to see Michael. He made her feel like she can get better every day. I’ve never seen her in a class where she was this excited!”

– Shaifa’s Mom Sajeda

Nzube & Shivani

Coming into Summer 2021, Nzube was an energetic, creative 3rd grader with a love for drawing but who hadn’t yet felt confident or excited about reading. Enter Nzube’s Youth Mentor this summer, Shivani Umesh. A freshman at Seneca Valley, Shivani quickly earned Nzube’s trust through her immediate encouragement and enthusiasm. Shivani found that Nzube had never been introduced to nonfiction books. And she saw him come alive when they worked through stories of history and real-life figures. The results were astounding. Not only did Nzube work with Shivani for one 8-week cycle, Nuzbe asked to stay on for a second (8 week) cycle of CRB and is now reading on a 4th grade level.

Nzube grew by more than a full grade level in literacy! That injection of confidence has made Nzube genuinely enthusiastic about reading. 

“He keeps asking me to take him to the library. He’s never done that!”

– Nzube’s Mom Jane

Envy & Caitlin

Envy and Caitlin are one of Community Reading Buddies’ greatest success stories. Going into Summer 2020, Envy was a joyful, sharp rising 3rd grader with a passion for math and science but who, for whatever reason, hadn’t felt confident in reading.

Envy’s Mom had tried everything from other reading programs to motivating her with science projects, but nothing was quite working. Then Caitlin began working with Envy twice a week. Usually skeptical of meeting new people, Envy quickly connected with Caitlin through her immediate enthusiasm and laugh.

Meanwhile, Caitlin found that, as a highly empathetic child, Envy thrived and felt inspired by stories when she asked her questions about the characters and their motivations. The confidence from their work together gave Envy so much more interest in reading that she started asking her Mom what books she could read next.

And the results were astounding. After only seven weeks together, Envy grew by more than a full grade level in literacy according to Fountas & Pinnell assessments! As Envy said, “I wish we could do it all year.”

“Envy had low confidence in herself when it came to reading. And she’s never really been interested in reading. Now she wants to read all the time!…I love this program!”

– Envy’s Mom Shamika