Together We Help Kids Grow Up Great

It’s been a big year for Rakeal, and some days it’s hard to recognize him from the shy kindergartner who started PPL’s afterschool youth program this past fall.

As the youngest kid in the room, Rakeal was a quiet but curious observer. He formed a strong relationship with his tutor and started to feel comfortable in the program. Soon Rakeal was sociable with his peers, shared eagerly during group conversations, and made artistic creations that seemed beyond his years.

“I put him in the program to interact with other kids in the building,” Rakeal’s mom Roshee said. “I like how it keeps him engaged and active.”

One daunting challenge for Rakeal remained: reading. PPL’s afterschool programs pair volunteer tutors with kids to develop literacy skills and meet community-wide efforts to have kids reading by third grade. Rakeal came to our program aware he couldn’t read and, like many older students in our program, was overwhelmed by the challenge of improving his reading abilities. His tutor found age-appropriate materials and began the process of teaching him how to read, encouraging him at every step. Eventually, Rakeal’s determination paid off in a big way.

Early this fall, Rakeal knew only a few words of the book he and his tutor read. By December, he could read the whole book. The accomplishment visibly energized the kindergartner: he reportedly danced all the way home that night.

“I have seen Rakeal grow from not thinking he can read to finishing a whole book out loud,” said Emily, who tutored Rakeal throughout the school year. “I am very glad I get the chance to work with him.”

Today, Rakeal is an avid reader. He reads above grade level and is ready for a new challenge—reading his older brother’s chapter books about superheroes.

 

Rakeal’s story is featured in our 2014 Annual Report.

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