October Mentor of the Month

Karla Walsh (left) and her mentee, Amaria (right)

Our October Mentor of the Month is Karla Walsh. Karla is a mentor to a 4th grade student, Amaria, at Walnut Street School. This is Karla’s fourth year with Everybody Wins! Iowa, and her third year reading with Amaria.

Karla works with social media for Better Homes and Gardens at Meredith Corporation during the day, but each Wednesday over her lunch hour, she comes to read with Amaria.

“It’s a really simple thing to do, just spend 45 minutes once a week reading with Amaria,” Karla said. “It’s a lot of fun! I get to hear about her dance classes too, and her schoolwork. So, it’s great.”

Amaria’s favorite kind of books are princess books. She said that she probably read more than 100 of them over the summer!  

“Every other book we read a princess book, and then in between those we read something that’s a little bit different,” Karla said.

Some of Amaria’s favorite non-princess books are “A Crooked Kind of Perfect” by Linda Urban and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” by Ian Fleming.

When asked about how her reading skills have improved since starting to read with Karla, Amaria said that she is much more confident.  She also reads a lot more at home during her breaks from school. Karla also said that Amaria has become much more outgoing.

Karla will continue to be a mentor to Amaria until she ages out of the program at the end of next year. The two have undoubtedly built a very meaningful relationship with one another.

Thank you for everything you do, Karla!

September Mentor of the Month

Tom McBride showing us his Governor’s Volunteer Award

Our September mentor of the month is Tom McBride. Tom is currently a mentor at Windsor Elementary School. He has been mentoring with Everybody Wins! Iowa for over 13 years and was a recipient of the Governor’s Volunteer Award in 2016.

Tom grew up with books and learned early on in his life the importance of literature. Growing up, his mother read to him ever since he could remember.

“(My mother) was a very strong advocate of reading,” Tom said. “As you get older, you realize just how important it is to be able to read and comprehend things. I know that’s one of the reasons why I did well in school was because I was able to read, I liked to read, and I could comprehend what I was reading.”

Tom was nominated for the Governor’s Award by Windsor Elementary School’s Site Coordinator for Everybody Wins! Iowa, Jan Fitzsimons.

“He is a neighbor who wants to give back to his own local school,” Fitzsimons wrote.

During the 2015-2016 school year, Tom was paired with a fourth-grade student named Hai. At the start of the year, Hai was pretty sullen about reading, but with time, Tom helped Hai gain confidence in his reading ability and helped Hai take the reigns of his future.

“Tom realized early on, that his student, Hai, had a keen interest in history, wars, geography and world cultures but was lacking in even the most basic concept of these topics,” Fitzsimons wrote. “Tom sought out Hai’s teacher, asking her for some guidance on genre. Tom brought in his own historical books to spark interest. He, finally, found books of a variety of topics, and before long I saw smiles, interest, and the two of them leaning over the pages of their book. Hai, formerly a refugee, is connecting with his new community and nation.”

Tom says that one of the most interesting things over the number of years that he’s been with the program is the range of students that he’s worked with.

“Some years it’s been a little challenging; some years it’s been easier,” Tom said. “I’ve read with all kinds of students with all different abilities and from all different parts of the world. I should have probably kept a list!”

When asked what it means to be a mentor with Everybody Wins! Iowa, Tom said that it gives him a sense of satisfaction to help kids that are in need since Tom doesn’t have any kids himself.

“I think it’s always important to do things that are not self-absorbed and try and reach out and help other people,” Tom said. “It gives me a sense of satisfaction being able to do that.”

August Mentor of the Month

Ellen Whitlatch, August Mentor of the Month

Our Mentor of the Month for August is Ellen Whitlatch. Ellen has served as a mentor for the past three years at our summer and school-year programs. This summer she was a mentor at Walnut Street School.

As a former elementary teacher, she has a passion for reading and books. She shares this passion weekly with her readers.

Ellen really stepped up to the plate this summer (always with a smile) and read with a different child almost every week. Attendance varies greatly for the students and mentors over the summer, so she graciously read with a child who most needed a mentor.

“I am present for the benefit of the student, and the student helps me grow as a person at the same time,” Ellen said.  “Reading one on one is a wonderful opportunity to give someone your undivided attention and be that one more caring adult in the life of a student. It is truly rewarding. My life has been enriched by developing friendships with the other mentors , our site coordinator, and the students I read with. We look forward to seeing each other once a week. That time is reserved, just for us.”

Thank you, Ellen, you rock!

July Mentor of the Month

July Mentor of the Month Kate Corman and her mentee, Keira
Our Mentor of the Month for July is Kate Corman. Kate is a mentor at Carver Community School.

Kate has been an EWI mentor for both the school year and summer programs for 5 years. She brings her love of reading and enthusiasm for books to the program. She consistently visits local libraries for books of interest for her mentees. This last school year her student enjoyed Super Hero books and she just may have checked out every Super Hero book in the city!

“Books take a person to a new place, another reality, where their imagination is the limit. A kid’s imagination is something to treasure so by reading they can use their minds in new ways they might not in the classroom, with friends, etc. I can think of no better way to share my love of reading than by reading with the Everyone Wins! Iowa Power Lunch program. It’s been a rewarding experience for me and I’ve gotten to reread and discuss some of my favorites again like “Charlotte’s Web” and “Fudge-a-mania”.”

 Thanks for sharing Kate!