Wow, 20 years already? My first readers have graduated from high school and college! I myself was a young 46 when I started as a SMART volunteer – and now I am a young 65!
I began as a SMART volunteer when the program started in 1992 with 8 schools, including La Pine Elementary. SMART was spearheaded by the Oregon Children’s Foundation led by former Governor, Neil Goldschmidt. Mr. Goldschmidt stated that SMART was …”one person stepping forward to help one child succeed. Making a personal commitment to children is the most important contribution you can make to the future of Oregon.” I wanted to be that one person. At that time Sunriver Properties, who owned Sunriver Lodge & Resort, sponsored the SMART program for La Pine Elementary. I live in Sunriver and the Sunriver community had the largest single contingent of volunteers at that time.
When Three Rivers School in Sunriver implemented SMART in 1993, I started reading there since it was right next to my office in the Sunriver Business Park – and 20 years later here I still am! I have really enjoyed sharing my love of reading with all 37 of my SMART readers.
I have kept a log of the students and the year I was their SMART reader – 37 in all. Now I wish I would have kept a log of “the moments” I had with each of them. What I do remember and still treasure are the smiles and hugs when I show up in their room for our reading time. I do still have the mementos they made at the end of the year – whether it was a handmade card, a plant, or a photo. I could see the bond develop as the year progressed – and how their confidence developed at the same time. My SMART time was and still is an important FUN break in my week. Of course an added bonus is the opportunity to read all of the wonderful children’s books!
Knowing that I played some small part in developing a “love of reading” in my 37 readers is why I am still a SMART reader! Since I could have another 20 years with SMART, I guess I will start that log of “moments with my readers!” next year.