Thousands of children in the St. Louis area are struggling with reading, and are at risk of continued academic and social challenges in school and in life. Based on the 2012 Missouri Assessment Program scores, only 22 percent of third-graders in St. Louis were reading at grade level. These low scores come at a time when budget cuts and staff reductions have made it even more difficult for teachers to provide the individual attention children need to succeed.
Karen Priest, today’s Daily Point of Light Award winner, is determined to change these disheartening numbers for the better. She inspires children to love reading and to imagine that they can do anything they aspire to do.
Over the last 12 years, Priest has worked with more than 400 first grade children to improve their literacy skills. In the last four years she has provided intensive support to 29 children. And her commitment to the students doesn’t stop there; In addition to tutoring, Karen becomes a mentor to the children, making a point to spend time with them doing fun things like attending special lunches at school.
Many children come from homes where family members often have low literacy levels and there are few books in the home. With these barriers, the students enter school lacking language experience and background knowledge critical to reading comprehension. These children desperately need one-on-one attention to build self-esteem, confidence, reading and language skills.
In addition to the intensive support she provides to seven children each week, Karen reads to the whole first grade class twice a week, provides gifts of books and school supplies for all first graders throughout the year and workshops every child to write their own story in what she calls a “Once Upon a Time” journal.
Do you know someone like Karen Priest who works to improve literacy in their community? Nominate them for a Daily Point of Light award today!