Friday, January 14, 2011

Reading with Chester

Weekly, Chester and I visit a local elementary school to read one-on-one with students.   Doesn't sound like too big of a deal,  but it's huge.  Often these students are those who are struggling readers for one reason or another, and because of this, reading is usually not on their top 10 list of favorite things to do ~~~unless of course, they get to snuggle up next to a lovable, furry, golden retriever named Chester, while they open their book! 

Our visit this week was typical and miraculous all at the same time.  After meeting the student in his classroom, we headed out the classroom door and down the hallway to our reading spot. The boy gently held one of Chester's leashes, and proudly lead the way. Most everyone we passed, children and staff,  oooohed and awed as we wove our way through crowded hallways. I heard quiet whispers of  Wow is that your dog?  Cool dog!  Can I pet him? , and with each comment, I noticed Chester's friend stood a little taller, and Chester strutted a bit prouder.  When at last we arrived at our reading spot,  this boy with the giant brown eyes, snuggled in next to Chester and opened his book.  Slowly he began to read, showing Chester the pages. Chester didn't notice mispronounced words or phrases, he just listened and enjoyed being with his friend.  After 10 minutes or so, this amazing student,  who has been working so hard to sound out letters and words, begs me, literally pleads with me :-), to read one more page, or five more minutes to his furry friend.   The teacher in me knows for certain that this, is a miracle, a struggling reader who WANTS TO read!    While gently rubbing Chester's ears, I smile at this hard-working reader, "I think Chester wants five more minutes too!"

PS Thank you to the very kind Principal, who was noticeably a bit surprised to walk into his teacher's lounge (our reading area) and find a very large four-legged-furry friend  snuggled with one of his students, reading ON the couch.  You watched, you listened, you encouraged. You saw the miracle too. :-) 

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