Story from a Volunteer Coach who wished to remain anonymous

School had never been my favourite place. By grade six I was being suspended often. I lasted only two days in grade seven before being suspended again and transferred to a special program at the High School. In grade ten I quit to have my baby. My experience with school now is amazing and wonderful because of the efforts of the staff at my son’s school.

When my son entered grade one he wasn’t ready to read. He could name fewer than half the letters of the alphabet, give a sound for only 3 of the letters and knew very few words on the list of 28. Children are expected to know all of the letters, a sound for each and more words by the end of kindergarten. He was already behind his peers. The Strong Start® program was introduced at our school that fall and so the staff added this program to the package of supports they had planned for my son. The program was a wonderful success for him. I was very proud of my son and very grateful for the efforts of the teachers and the Strong Start® Volunteers.

Strong Start® also ended up making a big difference in my life personally. The teachers convinced me to become a Volunteer Coach. At first I thought I couldn’t do it. I had always felt uncomfortable in a school and I certainly had never imagined myself as someone who could run a program for a child who was trying to learn to read. The teachers never gave up on me, however, and so I said yes. This was one of the best decisions of my life!

I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed working in this program. The training I got, the organization of the program and the excellent manuals made it easy for me to implement the program. The children loved the games and activities. They were always happy to see me when I arrived. I was excited to discover that I had some natural talent in working with children. I even ended up improving my own spelling and printing skills.

The positive energy was powerful! The most wonderful part is that I gained such confidence that I decided to go back to school myself and become an Educational Assistant. I’m now enrolled at the Adult Learning Centre to get my High School Diploma.

I actually enjoy school now! My son is now in grade two and loving school also. I feel so lucky that we were involved in Strong Start® right at this time in both our lives!