Going on its 19th year in operation, Summer Adventures in Literacy (SAIL) is a thriving summer program at P.K. Yonge for students with reading difficulties, such as dyslexia. In partnership with the University of Florida Literacy Initiative (UFLI), SAIL provides these students with small-group and one-on-one reading tutoring sessions conducted by both SAIL teachers and UF graduate student reading specialist interns. This program aims to boost student’s confidence in their reading skills and helps them flourish as readers and learners.
After these first few days at SAIL, Grant says the program has made her realize how important a personal relationship with a student is and how essential it is to their success. The kids spend every weekday morning at the school, so to be able to feel safe and cared for by the teachers is important when trying to learn a new skill that, up to this point, they have had a lot of trouble with.
“I think in her, what I noticed the most is she is getting more comfortable with reading and taking more risks while reading because she is comfortable with me,” Grant said “After learning from the student I am working with now, the key importance of a relationship.”
An article from Steinhardt, the Department of Applied Psychology at NYU, titled “The Effects of Teacher-Student Relationships: Social and Academic Outcomes of Low-Income Middle and High School Students,” gives some insight into why these relationships are so beneficial. Even though it mainly discusses older children, it still asserts that “positive teacher-student relationships enable students to feel safe and secure in their learning environments and provide scaffolding for important social and academic skills.” This can be true for the kids at P.K. Yonge who feel the safety of their surrounding and are able to express themselves and learn. In addition, for children such as Rose who can have a hard time listening to instruction, a good and strong relationship with her teacher can improve how she reacts to directions and rules. According to “The Educator’s Guide to Preventing and Solving Discipline Problems,” students who are lacking the foundation of a good relationship will resist rules and procedures. Through bonding and becoming her friend as well as her mentor, Grant is able to make sure that Rose’s behavior doesn’t interfere much with her time at SAIL.
As far as advice for future interns on how to succeed at SAIL, Turner and Grant both agreed that the more you put into the program, the more you will get out of it.