Last November, I answered a phone call from a prospective Adult Education student. After hearing about our program, he was excited to proceed. I suggested that he come in for an intake meeting with me. I asked his name and typed it into my online calendar. I wrote “R.J. Davids- Intake” in the 1:00 time slot on November 22nd. Smiling, I continued my work day. I am always happy when a new student reaches out for reading help.
When 1:00 rolled around on November 22nd, as expected, the student arrived at my office. Respectfully, he said, “Hi. I’m J.R. and I’m here for a meeting with you.” I welcomed him and joked that I must have been in a hurry when I wrote his name on the calendar last week because I thought his name was R.J. “It is,” the man responded. Confused, I asked, “Is your name R.J. or J.R?” The kind man smiled and reassuringly said, “Yes. That’s me. You got the right guy.” I realized that he didn’t have the pre-literacy skills needed to understand my question. I invited him to sit down and we began the intake. Assessments completed at that meeting indicated that he was reading below the first grade level.
I contacted a particular tutor and said, “I have a student I think you would love to work with. His name is either R.J or J.R. …I’m not sure which. I don’t think he knows either.” Intrigued, the tutor decided to work with him. The match was official. Tutoring began.
Months later, I knew that sessions were going well. I had spoken with the tutor and I had seen the student and his family at LCBC functions. The pair had been working diligently on names of letters and sounds that letters make. They worked on the order of letters in words and they rearranged sounds to make words. The student became certain that his name was R.J. and told this to his tutor. Once they reached the more difficult letter combinations, the mystery of his full name was solved. While studying the digraph “ck” the student sounded out the word R-i-ck and said, “Hey now! People call me Rick. That’s my name!”
Together, the pair continue to meet R.J.’s goals. After lots of practice, he was able to read a book to his grandchild for the first time.