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Reading Recovery – End-of-Year Success Stories & Reflections

SARASOTA COUNTY, July 21, 2020 – Though the 2019-2020 school year came to a unique end, our district’s resilient Reading Recovery students still made tremendous learning gains throughout the course of the year. The unexpected shutdown of brick & mortar schools in March did not stop the hard work and collaborative efforts of our wonderful Reading Recovery teachers as they forged ahead for their students. Please join us in celebrating their success as we share a few of their stories!


Tuttle Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Amy Bates

“Cataleya was in Reading Recovery in the fall and reached average in reading and writing, so her lessons were successfully discontinued. I continued to touch base with her informally after winter break but when schools switched to distance learning, we had time to work together regularly. She was always online a few minutes before our scheduled lesson time with the biggest smile on her face. She continued to grow as a reader and writer – we loved spending time together! In fact, her cousin and older brother often joined our lessons to listen to her read the books, too! It was a family affair! :)”

Teacher & student on Zoom  


Gocio Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Tamara Ellis

“Aiden began his morning at 7:30 with me with reading and writing. His mother wanted to be a part of his lessons before she went to work. His mom says that she loved to watch him read and write!”

Zoom screenshot


Gocio Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Tamara Ellis

“The initial start of distance learning came with a lot of anxiety for many of my families. Many of them did not have the tools they needed to Zoom for our lessons. But with the district's plan to ensure each child had a laptop and internet connection, that took an extreme amount of pressure off the families… A huge takeaway for me was that [because of the switch to distance learning] the parents were able to hear prompts that we use in lessons, such as "Try That Again", and see how we can slow check or stretch a word that might not be known. The parents were also able to learn how to ask questions during and after reading a story.”


Gulf Gate Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Andrea Shulman

Mattia read a Text Level 0 at the beginning of the year. He looked forward to each of his virtual lessons with Ms. Shulman! When his homeroom teacher, Ms. Goudreau, surprised him by dropping in on his Zoom lesson, she was delighted to listen to him read a nonfiction book about Black Rat Snakes, where he was able to retell facts in detail:

Child's RR writing prompt


Emma E. Booker Elementary School – Literacy Lessons teacher, Laurice Bartley

“…Tyger was so excited to read! He looked forward to our Monday and Thursday Zoom sessions. While his mom was at work, Tyger was home with his cousin and grandmother. His cousin’s computer skills assisted Tyger with our weekly Reading Recovery Zoom lessons. After five weeks, Tyger could use Zoom with ease. At first, I was a bit skeptical about doing Reading Recovery via the internet. Through Zoom, I could observe the progress my students were making, real-time, during their lessons. Tyger is proof – he started at a level 6 and was working on reading at a level 9/10 [by the end]. I’m thankful Zoom enabled me to still provide a conducive learning experience while observing growth all my students.”


Southside Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Jennifer Smith

“It was so sweet to keep the special connections we had with our Reading Recovery students [after brick & mortar schools closed]. Parents said they were so thankful to still have the reading and writing instruction, one on one, via Zoom. Southside students Sydney and Harrison loved being able to read in a fort or in costume. This made distance learning even more fun!”

RR Zoom lesson screenshot


Atwater Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Sandee Coward

“One of my students, LeLu, was highly motivated but extremely hard on herself [during reading lessons]… Working with her became as much about introducing strategies for reading and writing as building her self-confidence and letting her know making mistakes still involves learning, too. She ended the year reading at a level 24 and did so with smiles and confidence… These are the moments I try to take with me as I go to sleep each night. I know Reading Recovery gave her the abilities she needed to go further, walk through some new doors, and learn that the world doesn't end when you make a mistake. Instead, those mistakes allow you to meet the next challenge with a smile and the self-confidence to take it head-on, and win! I honestly don’t know if I would’ve gotten this far with her at school, so whenever I think about the “why” of all this [closure of schools in March], I think of LeLu... I think I know the “why” now!”


Toledo Blade Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Alison Mallo

“Wow – how do you like this? Jacob came up with the writing topic, "How to Clean My Room". His writing surely impressed his parents!!!”

Photo of student RR writing journal


Toledo Blade Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Alison Mallo

“Mea told me her favorite book to read is "Ben's Tooth" – she reads it with fluency and accuracy. I’m so proud of how far she's come, she is a round 2 student who entered the program at a text level of 3, and is now at 12/13!!”

Student holding her favorite book


Alta Vista Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Barbara Verity

“This is a message and photo I received that just made my year complete. Nathan is one of the many reasons why I teach: "Good morning. Nathan made this card for you. We are so grateful for all your help! Thank you! "

Student holding a Thank you Card for a teacher


Ashton Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Xiomara Dearing

“I am sure we can all agree that the days leading up to the end of school were HARD… My heart was beyond happy to have all my students from round 1 and 2 participate in distance learning. When a student’s mom shared they would be moving before the end of the school year, I was immediately struck with sadness as I thought of not being able to continue watching this amazing kid [Theo] grow into his potential... I fondly remember when he told me he wanted to be the President when he grew up, with the greatest conviction I have ever seen in the eyes of a 7-year-old! When the time of the big move came upon us, Theo’s mom assured me, without any prompting, that she would keep up with his lessons throughout their car trip north & until the end of the school year. I was not expecting this, but certainly appreciated the intension. The next morning when I clicked to start the lesson, I was delighted to see him in the "waiting room" screen! Theo didn't skip a beat and we just continued with lessons as usual. Our kids are special. Their families are special, and they have “shown up” in ways I never could have imagined!”

Photo of Zoom RR session


Glenallen Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Andrea LeFever

“After Lea McGee’s module on retelling, I kept trying to complete a retelling with my students at least once a week. ActivInspire made it easy to grab pictures from the book and then — with shared remote access — the students could sequence the pictures in order on their end. Then, as they retold, I typed so we could go back and determine if we had a full detail or if there were parts we could add to. 6 of my 7 students wanted to write about it being our last lesson together – clearly our time together meant as much to them as it meant to me!”

Zoom RR lesson screenshot


Atwater Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Julie Sardo

“After my virtual lesson — toward the end of her son’s lessons this year — I spoke with the mother of one of my students. She was so grateful for the progress her son had made, as well as the opportunity to have him in the Reading Recovery program. She was in tears as she talked about how far he had come through this process. She shared how he still wants to read everything in sight! She said that the last time they were in Home Depot, he read all the aisle signs in the store and was so proud of himself when he problem-solved words he didn’t know. I have no doubt this student would’ve been successfully discontinued [from the Reading Recovery program] had we been able to complete his lessons in the conventional way [in-person instruction] and do exit testing. As it is, he came in reading on a level 7 and his last running record during virtual lessons was a 96% on a level 17. His virtual lessons usually only had a quick introduction, after which he read the new book to his mom before the next lesson. His writing also progressed tremendously.”


Emma E. Booker Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Tanisha Williams

“This is truly why we do what we do… When we began distance learning, Jorge started out on a level 6. After 20 lessons, he was reading a level 13. Even though, this was not the most ideal learning situation [Reading Recovery lessons via Zoom], he still made progress. He was always ready for his lessons. In fact, he greeted me with a smile every time! Jorge always had something to share with me before we began. This allowed us to have great conversations. I loved these moments because when he started as one of my round 2 students, he didn't speak much. He almost never initiated a conversation. One day, he shared with me that he had read a book to his mom the night before. He then asked if he could read it to me. Of course, I let him read, "Are You My Mother?" to me. I was so proud of him! Then, for Teacher Appreciation Week, I really felt special! I received a text from his mom and a card from him. Both thanked me for helping Jorge with his reading. Just thinking about how far he advanced & his eagerness EVERY time we met… that is the epitome of why we do what we do.”


Englewood Elementary School – Reading Recovery teacher, Cathy Monda

“I received this from a parent of one of my students- he said his daughter couldn’t wait to get started with her summer diary!”

Summer RR journal inspiration


Tatum Ridge Elementary School – Literacy Lessons teacher, Alison Johnson

Describing a special guest that unexpectedly joined one of her Reading Recovery lessons: “He started walking past several times [during the lesson] and looking at the screen… then he sat in a chair just out of view. He started to inch closer and closer until finally, his chair was right next to his little brother's chair, and I could clearly see both boys smiling on the screen! When I gave the writing task to my Reading Recovery student, his older brother asked if he could add a picture to his writing… I didn't take a screenshot for fear of running the moment, but man, it was special to see! The power of good books (and caring teachers!) draws everyone in every time!”


Emma E. Booker Elementary School

“It Takes a Village”: Shout-out from a teacher to a student’s aunt

“I would like to give a special “shout-out” to the aunt of one of my students. Thanks to her aunt, the student was in attendance for all Zoom meetings. In addition to making sure all classroom assignments were completed, her aunt set up an account so that my student could continue her love of reading using Pioneer Valley digital books. For our last Zoom meeting, the student chose to read the chapter book Newborn Kits which is a text level “O”. As the proverb states, “It takes a village”. High five to all the aunts, uncles, and older siblings that stepped in during virtual learning on behalf of parents!”


Of course, the biggest high five of all goes to our friends at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and all the other amazing donors that are a part of “our village”. Together they have contributed to these, and hundreds of more success stories!