Excerpts reprinted from the Reading Recovery "August 2016 Site Report" for Northwest Area Education Agency

In the fall of 2004, cousins, Stephanie Ramirez and Carlos Munoz, started first grade at Emerson Elementary in Sioux City. They were not in the same classroom that year, but they were both first round students in Reading Recovery. Even though they are related, they come from homes with different backgrounds. One thing they do have in common is that they were both very successful learning to read in first grade, with the help of Reading Recovery. Now, both of these students are graduating from West High School with plans to attend college!

Stephanie came from a home in which no English was spoken. Carlos came from a home in which his mom was fluent in both Spanish and English with his dad speaking mostly Spanish with some English. 

In kindergarten, Stephanie remembers not really understanding much at school because she didn’t know any English. When she started Reading Recovery in first grade, she remembers being excited about reading. 

“Mrs. Newton made me feel good about my reading,” Stephanie remembers. “I gained a lot of confidence in myself during that time.” She feels that her time in Reading Recovery really helped her learn English. 

She remembers struggling a lot and that Mrs. Newton would always tell her that she was getting better.

“I never wanted to read out loud because I was afraid that I would come to a big word and not know it. I thought everyone else would know it but me”, she remembers. “I would read way too fast and I remember Mrs. Newton having me slow down so I would understand what I read”. 

During high school, Stephanie began working with children at several elementary schools with the Beyond the Bell program. She also worked at a family restaurant, as well. Stephanie will be attending Iowa State this fall and will be majoring in Elementary Education. 

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I would remember Mrs. Newton’s and Mrs. Renfeld’s voices as I grew up. I remember strategies they taught me. When I would work with my sisters at home and students at Beyond the Bell, I would show them the same things I was taught. I remember Mrs. Newton telling me that she was going to ask me a question when I was done reading, and see if I could answer that question? I remember Mrs. Renfeld making me fix my mistakes and telling me that you learn from your mistakes.”

Carlos remembers taking his Reading Recovery bag home and reading to his parents. He saw his mom reading at home a lot. He remembers that his favorite books included The Orphan Train and Captain Underpants books. 

“If I hadn’t started reading when I was younger, I don’t think I would have enjoyed reading when I was older”, said Carlos, “I remember struggling with taking tests when I was young. That is the only time I remember reading being hard.”

Carlos does not read or speak Spanish but can understand it. Carlos has earned his Advanced CNA in high school and works at Mercy Medical Center. He has also worked with students at the Beyond the Bell program at Loess Hills Elementary. He played soccer all four years of high school and ran cross country for two years in high school. His current plan is to attend the University of Nebraska in Omaha for one year and then transfer to the University of Iowa for his nursing career.

Both Stephanie and Carlos agree that Reading Recovery was an important part of their early foundations of reading.