From Teacher to Mentor–A Reflection on Working at Wise Readers

Clarise White

Summer 2019 was my second year working with Wise Readers to Leaders, which came with a new aspect of teaching that I had never experienced before: interacting again with students that I previously taught, further enriching their growth through elementary school. In the summer of 2017, I had the pleasure of being the Literacy Leader for grades 2-3 at the Milken Program Site, which was one of the most impactful experiences in my life and even pushed me to apply to the Masters of Arts in Teaching–Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program at USC. After coming back from a gap year studying abroad and starting my master’s program, I returned to Wise Readers to Leaders with the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary to fill the position of Assistant Site Coordinator. Because I did not have my own class this summer, I was able to work with all of the students and staff at the site, suggesting strategies for promoting better classroom culture, ensuring assessment fidelity, and supporting individual students. The students that I taught in 2017 had grown from being 2nd and 3rd graders to 4th and 5th graders when I returned this past summer. Many of them are now anxiously awaiting and preparing for middle school. Through my work with these particular students, I was able to be part of this pivotal transition from childhood to adolescence, facilitating not only literacy development but also social-emotional growth over the six weeks. Even though my expertise lies in early childhood and elementary, I feel that I have learned so much through working with the same students over several years. My role at Wise Readers not only changed from Literacy Leader to ASC, but also from teacher to mentor.