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Our Story 2017-09-11T18:20:27+00:00
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volunteers
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Our History and Mission

After much prayer and research, the Christ Together Greater Austin leaders decided to focus on addressing the systemic problem of 3rd grade literacy. Leaders in education research for Central Texas identified 3rd grade literacy as one of four systemic problems facing our community. Research identified that from kindergarten to 3rd grade a child learns to read. From 3rd grade on a child reads to learn. If a child is behind grade level at the end of 3rd grade his/her academic and economic future is not promising.

With over 200 elementary schools located in Greater Austin, the need to reach every at-risk child is great. As a faith based community, we have an opportunity to partner a church with each school, reading to children one-on-one, while supporting educators as they help children to learn and grow. So far, 280+ churches, community organizations, and school partnerships have started in the Greater Austin area with hundreds of literacy partners and mentors making a difference in the lives of children.

Education Connection is a part of Christ Together Greater Austin, specifically under “acts of service”.

Our mission is simple… every child reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade.

Our mission is guided by three principles:

  1. Humility – not bringing in our own agenda. We strive to be a support to the schools, classrooms, and children.
  2. Consistency – making a volunteer commitment for a school year of service. Truly using one’s servant heart to honor constant reading with children.
  3. Simplicity – “Elaborate Simplicity” – the idea being that Education Connection needs to be something that imposes little on the schools/teachers and simple enough that a willing volunteer without “teacher training” can do and will make a difference to the child.

Please note, while this is an effort that arose from Christian churches, it is not at all about proselytizing. Volunteers understand and are trained in how to be community servants and not to bring religious perspectives into the literacy work.

Testimonials

Austin ISD 

I had one student eager to read and quickly went through his books. Another student who was hesitant and only wanted to read in Spanish but, became more willing to read once we got to know each other. Literacy Partner

From the beginning of the year to the end – both have improved significantly. One in reading speed and ability and the other in reading comprehension. Literacy Partner

They are both reading faster and comprehending more. Literacy Partner

I really appreciate the kindness of all our Literacy Partners. All my students showed improvement on their reading.  Teacher

My students are feeling more confident and willing to volunteer to read aloud.  Teacher

I thank the Literacy Partners for taking the time to come and read to and listen to our students reading, for their kindness, and patience. I am looking forward to seeing them again next year. Teacher

Lake Travis ISD

Both students began the year with limited reading skills and little confidence. As time went on, each developed better reading skills, more confidence, and an excitement about reading and learning. Loved their enthusiasm! Literacy Partner

One of my students advanced from reading without much feeling one word at a time to seeing and reading phrases with interest, emotion, and understanding. He did not recognize and respond to question marks or exclamation points initially, but picked them up relatively quickly. Literacy Partner

Both of my students were quite advanced in their reading skills when we began. Over the weeks, their confidence increased and their personalities shined through, and their intonation and comprehension improved. I think the personalized, one on one time allowed them to expand their skills and interest in reading, in ways that might not be possible during class time. I think they were proud to be selected for the program, and that their classmates were intrigued and hopeful to be included in the future. (several asked outright to be included) Literacy Partner

My students who participated are more willing and eager to read aloud and their fluency has improved. They are always excited to read with me and to others.  Teacher

The students that had this opportunity to read with a Literacy Partner were kids that needed just a little push. This one on one time is super important and I appreciate that they receive this help. They all loved the visits.  Teacher

My Literacy Partners were amazing and consistent. I believe that my students had meaningful meetings with their partners. Keep it up.  Teacher

Great to see all the volunteers coming every week. It sure seemed that all the individual attention given to the kids added up to something great! Principal

All our Literacy Partners are amazing! I loved seeing them so engaged with the students. Great group of people!! Principal

I am so thankful for my Literacy Partners. I want to take just a moment to reflect on our two years at Lakeway. First, Literacy Partners have set a fire in many of the hearts of my students. My children are very excited when their reading buddy comes to visit. This joy is transferred to the joy of reading. The Literacy Partner assures the child that they will be able to enjoy reading as any other students. I know they are making a difference in the academic abilities of my students. I also know that they are lifting hearts and sharing joy with my students. Principal

Liberty Hill ISD

Patience, encouragement, consistency are great tools for working with my two. They’re very different, but each has made good strides. Literacy Partner

It is such a blessing each week to walk into the classroom and see the excitement on the faces of the children I read with each week. It is definitely a joy to see their confidence grow throughout the year as their reading skills improve. Literacy Partner

My student loved to read with her Literacy Partners. She looked forward to it. She developed so much in her reading. It takes a village to raise and educate children and the Literacy Partners had a great part on it. Teacher

I always JUMP at the chance to utilize Literacy Partners as a resource. It is invaluable to have that one on one time to share a love for reading. Teacher

I think Literacy Partners is a very smoothly run program. I enjoy helping with it and think it greatly benefits our students. Principal

Manor ISD 

Students are reading with greater confidence and with expression. Literacy Partner

I have the opportunity to talk with my students’ teacher. We talk about what needs to be emphasized and this is helpful for us all. Literacy Partner

They started to understand what they were reading. Literacy Partner

Only one student has not shown growth, but not due the literacy partner by any means. The literacy partner and myself are probable the only people who read with the student. Teacher & Leadership

We appreciate our partnership more than I can express and look forward to continuing and growing. Teacher & Leadership

We appreciate our partnership more than I can express and look forward to continuing and growing. Teacher & Leadership

Pflugerville ISD

The students are reading better, more smoothly, and with expression. They are showing good comprehension skills as well. Literacy Partner

Both students are reading better than when we started. Much more confident than when they started reading. Literacy Partner

The time spent here is priceless and spiritually uplifting. I would even go on my days off if possible, that’s how much I enjoy it. Literacy Partner

Literacy Partners have given my students more confidence in their reading and additional time to practice reading.  Teacher

My students seem more confident when reading in English.  Teacher

I have seen an improvement in my students’ reading.  Teacher

These volunteers have been wonderful! They are dependable and flexible when we have changes that cause them to not be able to come. Leadership

Our Literacy Partners were a blessing to our campus and things ran really well. Leadership

Round Rock ISD

Last Thursday my student was reading a book to me entitled “I like to read”. In the middle of the book he stopped and said, “You know, I like to read. It is what you need to do to be smart, to get to the next level. When I get to 5th grade I will be reading chapter books and I will be able to read any book in this library.” What a delight to hear his vision for himself! Literacy Partner

I think this is a great program! Literacy Partner

This year is going very well. The reading is running very smoothly, and I see such a difference in improvement with my kids. One student checks out books from the library now so that when it is my turn to read, she has already picked something for me. Literacy Partner

My students all enjoyed the time spent with their Literacy Partner and felt more confident in their own reading skills. This confidence led to further improvement in decoding, fluency, and comprehension skills. Teacher

All the students are now reading at grade level expectations! Teacher

Even though some of my students are still below grade level, I see them enjoying reading more and seeing the value in reading. I also see student’s behavior improve because they have someone from the community who is supporting them emotionally and academically. Teacher

Having the Education Connection Literacy Partners these past three years has provided many of our students a wonderful opportunity to not only read with an adult but establish a connection as well. Our students thrive with our Literacy Partners and look forward to their visit every week. Principal