“Bridges to Dreams”
A Story about Marvin and Kim
In May 2017, Marvin enrolled with Learn to Read after getting information about the program from the local library. Marvin was seeking help to improve his reading and writing. He recalls what motivated him to enroll by recalling how he felt at the time. “As a child, I struggled in school and didn’t get the basics. Now, I was at a place in life that I could go back and learn the things that I missed.”
Marvin began as a Learn to Read student in the small group class and computer lab that provide self-guided and individualized instruction. Jessica, his teacher at the time, says, “from the very beginning he knew what he wanted and was very focused!” By August of that year, he had progressed far enough in class that he was connected with a tutor to provide weekly one-on-one instruction. This support helps students with their personal learning goals.
Around the same time Marvin was beginning his small group studies, Kim visited her neighborhood Barnes & Noble where Learn to Read staff were providing information on becoming a volunteer tutor. She signed up right away, went through the training, and was then connected with Marvin to begin tutoring. Kim said of her experience, “I had just switched jobs and was no longer working directly with people. That led me to seek out opportunities where I could provide some really meaningful help to others to working to reach their goals.” When she met Marvin, she remembers feeling like there was a deeper motivation driving him. “I remember being surprised in the most wonderful way. I had expected he would be interested in more standard academic goals, which he was, but when he also started talking about the idea for his book, I realized this was someone who has lots of insights to share and that this was going to be a really great journey for both of us. I didn’t know what the book was about, and he just said he wanted to ‘share a message’. I became very curious!”
Soon after they began working together, Marvin shared his dream of specifically writing a children’s book. The story he wrote and illustrated is about a group of friends participating in a race through Jacksonville over many of the city’s colorful bridges. Through the course of the race, the children learn something. Marvin shared how he came upon the idea for the book and what he wanted children to learn from it saying that at the time, “I was regularly taking my godson to school during the week. Through many of our conversations, I realized I wanted to help show the kids that you can compete and still be friends. I wanted the story to be a lesson for them to learn from.”
This past January, Marvin, completed 150 hours of instruction and increased his reading and writing score by almost three full grade levels. And, he finished writing and illustrating his book which he has titled “The Color Bridge Race.” The story is a fun journey through Jacksonville that engages children in learning about Jacksonville’s colorful bridges while also learning about friendly competition. Marvin credits this project and the skills he’s developed during his time with Learn to Read in building his confidence as well as his skills, “Once your confidence builds up, you feel like you can do anything from that point on.”
Marvin’s story shows how Learn to Read builds bridges for our students to accomplish their dreams. Way to go Marvin!
Thank you to all of our supporters that have made stories like this possible.
For more information about how you can be involved or support Learn to Read Jacksonville, contact us with any of the information below.
Learn to Read Jacksonville
40 East Adams Street, Suite LL30
Jacksonville, FL 32202