There are so many different reasons why a child might struggle to learn to read, including neurological, memory, or vocabulary issues. Carol Wilkins, a reading interventionist at Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School, loves working with scholars one-on-one to pinpoint where the challenge is and how to overcome it.
Supporting Children’s Aid's dedication to ensuring every child has the opportunity to learn, grow, and lead, Ms. Wilkins works hard to build relationships with middle school kids. Joining the Children’s Aid family in 2015, she currently teaches 11 kids who are reading at least two levels behind where they should be. “The Children’s Aid mission—to help the most vulnerable children succeed and thrive—speaks to me,” she said. “This is the population that has always been closest to my heart. And everyone here is invested in the students.”
Ms. Wilkins is no stranger to mounting challenges. While in elementary school, her family had a difficult time and she was out of school a lot. She had a particularly supportive teacher who checked in on her frequently. “I wanted to be like her—someone who had very high standards but a genuine desire to see her students succeed,” she said.
As a student teacher in late 2001, she learned the importance of getting to know kids personally. When one of her student’s father died in the 9/11 attacks, she learned to teach him while also navigating his mourning and his triggers.
It takes a special commitment and keen insight to help kids meet their full potential. Ms. Wilkins has a unique touch when it comes to middle school kids who have a tendency to test authority. She has built a bond with her most challenging scholar, a kid who shuts down easily, through a card game. “He has confidence when he plays,” she said. “So I gave him goals for our sessions and when he was done, we played cards.”
It took a lot of trial and error, a lot of going over and over the lessons, and a lot of reinforcement, but Ms. Wilkins was delighted that the scholar retained what he’d learned over a recent break.
“My favorite children are the ones who have to work the hardest but keep persevering,” she said.