Alumni Blog Series #3


In this installation of our Alumni Blog Series, PreK Reading Corps Alumna Courtney discusses her inspiration for pursuing teaching after Reading Corps.

He Not Only Learned His Vocabulary, He Learned Me

Even though I’ve been a Special Education teacher for over 6 months now, I still think about my preschoolers from Reading Corps last year. I will always have a soft spot for the children I worked with as a tutor. I will never forget the smiles on their faces when they conquered a new letter or remembered that “dog” rhymes with “frog.”  Those smiles are what solidified my decision to join The New Teacher Project. When I started Reading Corps, I was still unsure of whether I actually wanted to pursue being a teacher, but watching my three and four-year-olds enjoy the success of learning pre-reading skills pushed all doubts I had away.

I had so many priceless moments with my Reading Corps class in Alexandria, but the one moment that I will carry with me forever is when I truly realized the impact I had on my children’s’ lives beyond just teaching them phonics. I had just finished up an intervention, and John (name changed) told me that he wanted to test me on his vocabulary words. I knew this was going to be too cute, so of course, I let him do it. He not only knew all of his vocabulary words (including pharmacy, which had been a struggle!) enough to quiz me on them, but he also knew the entire script Reading Corps uses to make sure tutors are teaching with fidelity. And beyond that, he had my mannerisms down to a tee, even making sure to line up the cards before he went through each one. John had not only learned his vocabulary, but he had learned me.

It was then that I realized my kids looked up to me and saw me as someone who would always be there for them. It was overwhelming to realize that just going into the classroom everyday meant more to my kids than I could imagine.  Now, in my current job as a Special Education Teacher, I feel the impact I have on my students every day when they ask about any little schedule change. My students count on me to be consistent and to teach them the foundational skills they are missing, and I love being that person for them. I will always be in their corner and on their team, pushing them to be their very best version of themselves, and there is truly nowhere else I’d rather be. I’m so grateful for my experience as a Reading Corps tutor that helped guide me down this path.