Email From A Mentor

Feb 13, 2012

First, I wanted to give you an update on Julio.
OK, I know that we’ve had just two sessions, but can I just say, Julio is amazing, and I couldn’t be prouder of him.  I wondered if (and was prepared for the possibility of) mentoring would be a bit like pulling teeth, but that has categorically NOT been the case with him.  The boy works…HARD.  He stays focused, does not object to anything I’ve asked, and puts his whole effort into mastering the lessons.  Very…happy-go-lucky.  Based on what I’ve seen so far, his being behind has nothing whatsoever to do with a lack of effort–just a lack of the extra help he needs to catch up.  I wish you could see his face as he looks to me to see if he got a word right or wrong after struggling so hard to read it, or when I began a list for him of words he’s already learned and was able to put several down right away so he saw that he’d made progress already!  It’s enough to make me want to move heaven and earth to make sure he gets 110% of whatever he needs to succeed.

Here are some observations thus far:
  • I downloaded and printed the skill cards for each level from the American Reading Co. website to use a diagnostic tool.  I started with the power words from the easy level (Green=Kindergarden) and he missed 2 words.  Progressing to 1-Blue (1st Grade) he got nearly all the one syllable words but missed 20/25 two syllable words (e.g., planet, petal, center, inches, bottle, butter, faking, biking, chimed, invite, suppose, clover, draining, crayon, beagle, degree, coaster, argue, hooded, willow, powder).  There are a total of 125 words on this page and we went through them all.  Some of these words I think he missed  for lack of a point of reference (he never heard them before, had no idea what they meant); others he knew but could not form the words by reading.
  • I’ve tried to teach him “chunking” and this helps but I’m thinking that there must be a defined, methodical strategy for teaching/learning this technique, and any advise or resources you have on this would be appreciated!
  • He has an amazing memory.  Words he learned in the first book we read together on week #1 (the Star Wars book) he recalled with ease week #2 (spaceship, rebel, and a few others).
Can I just say also, on a more personal note, I couldn’t be happier doing this.



We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

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Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.