This school year marks the 15th straight year that Michael Diver has read aloud to a child in the Everybody Wins! Iowa program. He also previously served on the organization’s Board of Directors for six years.
“Michael has provided leadership seeking mentors and financial resources, and also increasing our program capacity and collaborations,” Karen Ligas, Executive Director for Everybody Wins! Iowa, said. “We are so grateful for his ongoing service!”
Up until this school year, Michael always read at Capitol View Elementary School. Now Michael is reading at Willard Elementary, a new program closer to his home, with a second grader named Luis.
“We are off to a swell start,” Michael said. “I think we’re going to have a great year together.”
Over his 15 years, you could guess correctly that Michael has read with many different students.
Michael and his very first reading partner, Raul, were paired together for three straight years. Recently, Raul graduated from high school.
“I took a graduation card to a vice principal at the school and asked her to give it to him,” Michael said. “I wrote Raul a letter telling him how much I had enjoyed our years reading together, how proud I was of him for getting his degree, and wished him the best.”
The vice principal later emailed Michael and said Raul was floored to receive the card, and that he definitely remembered Michael. Raul even said that Michael was the one that first made him excited about reading.
“It was the most fulfilling thing I have ever heard in my time at Everybody Wins,” Michael said. “If we can make kids excited about reading, we are changing the world.”
One thing about Michael is that when he reads aloud, he does so in a very expressive way to make it more fun and interesting for the kids.
“If a book is silly, I’ll sometimes do silly voices when characters are speaking,” Michael said. “I try to give each character his own identity. Helping to convey the meaning of a book with your own expressiveness is worthwhile. It helps to bring the book alive.”
A student once complimented Michael on his use of expression, saying to him that “it sounds like a movie when you read.”
“A lot of young people have spent many, many hours watching TV and playing video games,” Michael said. “It’s good for them to discover how exciting books are too. In many ways, books are much better!”
A big part of this mentoring program for Michael is showing up every week and demonstrating to a child that you care enough to be there for them for months on end.
“I try to ask how school is going,” Michael said. “If we’ve talked about their families, and we always do, I ask about brothers or sisters and usually end up with some feel for their home life. You just have to build a trust with one another, and that can take time.”
Michael said that he is confident that the kids he reads with benefit from their time they spend together each week.
“Their reading skills improve, their interest in reading goes up greatly,” Michael said. “Even their range of experience, by interacting weekly with an adult, is expanded. Their confidence grows.”
Thank you, Michael, for making a difference in the lives of many!