(Aug. 11, 2017) -- When Rolando Guerrero was a business management student at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), he came across the La Plaza de Lectura’s Roadrunner Readers program while taking classes at the Downtown Campus. For several years, he remembered seeing the center’s bright colored walls and shelves filled with books. So when his then-fourth grade sons, Francisco and Ricardo, were having trouble reading, he knew exactly where to take them to get the extra help they needed.
“When we first started with the program, I was looking for something for them to better advance themselves and to get help in reading,” said Guerrero. “They were really excited because they knew they were going to go to the UTSA Downtown Campus and that was dad’s school. We’ve loved it since day one.”
Over the past eight semesters, Francisco and Ricardo have worked with tutors one-on-one and in small groups to enhance their reading skills, including fluency, vocabulary, and decoding. The progress they have made, Guerrero said, has surpassed his expectations.
“When we started the program, my sons weren’t reading on grade level,” said Guerrero. “I have seen a huge progression from them since we started until now. Even their teachers at school have noticed an increase in their reading ability. It’s been wonderful.”
The program, which is currently housed in the Center for the Inquiry of Transformative Literacies, pairs struggling readers from around the San Antonio community with literacy students in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development (COEHD). Faculty members from the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching oversee the progress that the readers, and college students, make over the course of each semester.
“It really is a win-win situation,” said Guerrero. “Not only do the kids get help with reading, but the program also gives college students the opportunity to practice and learn from the kids. Not everyone in San Antonio has this kind of program.”
This summer, Francisco and Ricardo were paired with COEHD student Michael Ogrodowski, who worked with them four times a week to move up two reading levels.
“One area of improvement that I noticed was in their motivation to read,” said Ogrodowski. “They indicated at the beginning of the program that they didn’t care much for reading, but by the end of the sessions, they were becoming invested in reading books that they self-selected and were interested in the topic.”
For nearly 20 years, the Roadrunner Readers program has provided services to thousands of children and adolescents, and has worked to increase the literacy rate in the San Antonio area.
“One of the objectives of the Center of the Inquiry of Transformative Literacies and the Roadrunner Readers program is to improve the human condition of children and youth in the San Antonio area by providing research-based reading and literacy experiences,” said Marcy Wilburn, service coordinator for the Center for the Inquiry of Transformative Literacies. “Francisco’s and Ricardo’s success is so important because not only are they are expanding their literacy and communications skills, they are also becoming independent readers and critical thinkers of the world around them.”
Francisco and Ricardo will be entering the seventh grade this year and, Guerrero said, are better prepared for the year ahead because of the Roadrunner Readers program.
“There are really no words to explain it,” said Guerrero. “The program has been a really great and wonderful experience for my sons. To have resources and programs like this are very meaningful to our family. I’ve been telling all my friends and family about it because I love the experience that we’ve had here at UTSA.”
UTSA is ranked among the top 400 universities in the world and among the top 100 in the nation, according to Times Higher Education.
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