The third time is charming

Martha ConradtApril 23, 2021

Sometimes, a chance meeting on a flight can lead to a long-time, meaningful volunteer experience. In 2018, Drew Yarnell, his wife Ashlyn and a Lead to Read KC Reading Mentor ran into each other on a flight and spent the entire flight talking about life and the Lead to Read KC program. By the end of the flight, Drew says, “I found myself as a volunteer.”

Drew Yarnell and his student

Drew is a Reading Mentor with the HNTB team that volunteers at Crossroads Academy Quality Hill. He and his student have been paired for three years, beginning when the student was in first grade.

“I support Lead to Read KC because I can see the change in the students. I believe the students enjoy something new in their day and a new face they can tell their story to. I am constantly impressed at how much my student has grown in her reading in three years. The focus and difficulty of the book has really improved more than I was expecting.” ― Drew Yarnell, HNTB

When the class moved to second grade, Lead to Read KC Volunteer Manager Hayley Rees decided to pilot a program where Reading Mentors “moved up” with their students. 

“We believe a continued relationship makes the mentor-mentee bond even stronger, so when possible, we pair Reading Mentors and students for more than one year.” ― Hayley Rees, Lead to Read KC 

Beth Dawson of the Mid-America Regional Council also has been paired with her student for three years.  

“My student and I have read both pre-pandemic and during the pandemic. It’s been a rewarding experience to share my love of reading and to watch her evolution as a reader. I’ve enjoyed discovering new books and in some cases seeing old stories with new eyes. I’ll miss seeing her future journey after she completes third grade. No matter how my week is going, I leave reading in a better mood!” Beth Dawson, Mid-America Regional Council (MARC)

Beth Dawson and student

Tom Nelson and Kit Linscott of H&R Block have a three-year connection with their student, as well. Tom and Kit are part of Lead to Read KC’s Shared Volunteer Experience, where they alternate attending reading sessions.  

‘”Kit and I have been fortunate to read with our student for our 3rd year in a row! Witnessing her journey as a reader year after year has been so rewarding. We watched as she went from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’, and it’s so fun to hear about which books excite her now. I don’t have much opportunity to engage with this age group, so being a part of her growth has opened this window into my community.” ― Tom Nelson, H&R Block

This is just a sampling of the many pairings that have been going strong for three years. And, it’s not only the Reading Mentors and students who treasure these long-time connections. Our partners on staff at Crossroads Academy Quality Hill also are big advocates of the program. 

“The Lead to Read KC Program has been such a bright spot for students and staff at Quality Hill! This partnership has helped our kids build confidence and learn to love reading. Seeing the smiles on our kids’ faces when they are reading with their volunteers is priceless. I couldn’t be happier with our experience and am excited to continue the partnership!” ― LaKeshia Lewis, Assistant Principal at Crossroads Academy Quality Hill

“I have had the unique experience watching the relationships grow across the years as I have taught the same group of students in first and third grade. Lead to Read KC has been such a gift for my students. Their excitement each week speaks to the relationships built between each student and adult volunteer. It is so impactful to hear about pairs that have continued to blossom across the years. We have seen significant benefits both academically and socially through this program, and I 100% recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity. Being a Lead to Read Teacher for the past three years has been a beautiful experience, and I am so grateful for the benefits it has brought my classroom and the Kansas City community.” Danielle Parker, Teacher at Crossroads Academy Quality Hill 

Many thanks to ALL our partners on staff at Crossroads Academy Quality Hill. And, thank you to ALL our Reading Mentors at Crossroads Academy Quality Hill and throughout our program. We are so grateful for your support!

Interested in becoming a Reading Mentor? Apply today!