News

My Why: Volunteering as a Reading Coach

Written by Sarah Beckman, Achieve Brown County Executive Director
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Even since I was little, volunteering has been a huge part of my life. Growing up in a family where monetary wealth wasn’t abundant, my mom still instilled in us a passion for giving back. This spirit of volunteering continued to guide me as I journeyed into adulthood and entered the workforce.
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Now, as a member of the Achieve Brown County team, I’ve found a new depth of purpose in helping young people and our greater community through systemic change. Although changing a system may look different than providing a direct service, I see the indescribable effect this work has on improving the lives of our community members. We seek permanent solutions for segments of our youth who have been failed by existing systems.
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Since my work often operates behind the scenes, I felt compelled to engage directly with our community and with our community’s young people. I believe in the systemic work that Achieve Brown County does and investing some of my time back as a volunteer in our community always reminds me of the passion my mom instilled in me to help others. Despite not being a parent myself, I believe in the adage “it takes a village to raise a child.” One of Achieve Brown County’s focus areas is raising reading proficiency rates for youth, so I decided to sign up to be a Reading Coach through the Volunteer Center of Brown County.
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During the 2022-2023 school year, I volunteered at Fort Howard Elementary School, working with fourth graders. The diversity of learning abilities within the classroom was eye-opening. From children struggling to read a sentence to those breezing through chapter books, each interaction highlighted the unique needs of each student.
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During this school year, I returned to Fort Howard Elementary School, this time working with Kindergarten students. Stepping into the classroom for the first time this year filled me with excitement and anticipation; you could feel the whole school buzzing with activity. On my most recent day volunteering, I was paired with a young girl who was eager to dive into a book about the Easter bunny. We explored the cover, imagining the story that lay within. As we turned each page, I prompted her with questions, fostering her comprehension and engagement. The joy on her face as we finished the book and shared a hug was indescribable. I felt the impact volunteering can have on both the giver and the receiver. Despite not being a parent, I’ve found my place in our community where I can contribute to the growth and development of children.
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Volunteering as a Reading Coach has not only enriched the lives of the students I work with but has also deepened my connection to the challenges of raising young readers in our community. It’s a reminder that no matter our circumstances, we all have something valuable to contribute to others and especially to kids. As I continue my journey as a volunteer Reading Coach, I look forward to the adventures and opportunities that lie ahead. Each interaction, each smile or hug, reaffirms my belief in the power we all have to create positive change, one child at a time.¬†

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Learn More About…

Achieve Brown County’s Reading for the Future Initiative¬†

The Volunteer Center of Brown County 

Sarah Beckman and the ABC Team