Staff Scene: Brooke Gillum

Brooke Gillum, site coordinator

Coordinating Power Read is like moving puzzle pieces around, according to Brooke Gillum, and it’s an activity she enjoys three times each week during the school year. Brooke signed on as a site coordinator at Cattell Elementary School in Des Moines after seeing a friend’s social media post about EWI’s need for part-time staff. A few months later she took over coordinating duties at Ankeny’s Northwest and Southeast elementary schools when the site coordinator there needed to step away. “I love doing it, and I was happy to step in when the need arose in Ankeny,” she says.

Brooke’s responsibilities kick in the evening before each program when she emails reminders to the mentors about the next day’s Power Read. The following morning, she checks in with the school about student absences, “and then it’s just a matter of matching everyone up and putting students and mentors together wherever we have absences,” she says. “After that, I show up, get the book cart, get the kiddos, make sure they have their lunch, and get them reading.”

Though Brooke may be the person with the answers during Power Read, she finds that she’s still learning. “I’ve realized that all kids learn differently,” she says. “Some can’t sit still. Some listen better if they’re sitting on the floor. Whatever it takes, the thing I love most is when the mentor and kid have a goal. When they’ve completed their READO and the kids get their books, it’s so great to see the excitement on their faces.”

Brooke also takes pleasure in interacting with her schools’ staffs. “I love how the schools are super welcoming and excited,” she says. “They’re so accommodating and make me feel like I work there, too.”

Brooke, who learned about Power Read and EWI from the social media post, encourages people to sign up to mentor. “We could use at least three more mentors at Cattell,” she says. “We have kids waiting.” For more information about becoming a mentor, contact Anna Sunstrom at If you’re interested in joining us as a site coordinator, please contact Stacy Pearce at