Our September mentor of the month is Bob Railey, who has been a reading mentor with Everybody Wins! Iowa for 5 years.
Bob is reading at Monroe Elementary this school year. He read at Findley Elementary over the summer and also reads to kids in a similar program organized by the local Kiwanis club that he belongs to.
“Bob has been a dedicated and enthusiastic mentor with us,” Christine Russell said, who was a site coordinator at Findley Elementary this summer. “He builds a strong rapport with his students and conveys his love of reading to them.”
Upon retirement years ago, Bob decided he wanted to do something that would be beneficial with his time. That’s when he decided to become a reading mentor.
“I guess I’ve got one or two teacher’s genes buried in me somewhere,” Bob said. “I feel that reading is one of the most important things that children can learn because they’ll need to use it all their lives.”
Being a mentor to Bob means being a positive adult influence in a child’s life that they can relate to, at least for a brief period of time once a week.
During his time as a reading mentor, Bob has worked with several students who are first-generation Americans. He said that many of these children don’t get spoken to in English much at home, so their time spent together each week is crucial to helping them learn and become more comfortable with the language.
“It is rewarding to see how first generation Americans progress over the course of time,” Bob said. “I hope it’s setting them up to be citizens in this country and be productive throughout their lives.”
One of the main goals of the EWI program is to build students’ reading skills, and Bob has seen recognizable growth from his mentees.
“The biggest affirmation of what we’re doing is that some of the teachers say that the students with reading mentors, it’s amazing how much their reading improves compared to students who don’t have reading mentors,” Bob said.
Students in the EWI program always have the opportunity to pick out whichever book they want to read from our cart, which helps to keep kids interested in reading.
“The main thing is, if they’re willing to read it, let’s read it,” Bob said. “And hopefully it’s fun for them. More fun doing that than reading about history or the Mayflower or science. They get a choice.”
Bob said that although subjects such as science and history are important subjects, children learn different vocabulary from reading all types of literature, which is just as important.
If there are other retirees out there reading this, Bob wants to encourage you to pick up a book and read to a child.
“It’s a good diversion if you’re bored with not doing anything after retirement,” Bob said.
“It’s fun and very rewarding.”
Thank you for choosing to make a difference in the lives of our students, Bob!