Well, we are quickly coming to the end of the 2021 – 2022 school year. Soon our students will be completing what, at times, seemed an insurmountable mountain — a school year filled with Covid-19 and the chaos that has surrounded it. To say that the last 2 years has created learning deserts for children, despite the heroic efforts of their teachers, is an understatement. But those of us who are parents or educators (or both) know the beauty of the resilient nature of children. With just one semester of a return to “normalcy,” we are starting to see the fog of lost learning slowly lift. The learning deficit created around the world due to school closures has been devastating so the return of students to classrooms across San Antonio in the later part of the first semester and throughout the second semester has been encouraging.
Like the children, San Antonio Youth Literacy’s (SAYL) Reading Buddies have also returned to elementary schools across our partner districts. We are nowhere near serving the level of students we did pre-pandemic, but that will be solved through time and the return of our collective sense of security. It has been so validating of our mission of providing support to children in San Antonio by empowering them with the skills needed to read to learn while fostering self-confidence and enjoyment of reading, to know that so many of our Reading Buddy volunteers marched in place until it was safe to move forward. The staff and board of directors of SAYL will never be able to express our overwhelming gratitude for their support of and commitment to the students they serve. Because of these individuals, we were able to serve nearly 200 students across Northside, Northeast, and San Antonio ISDs, providing nearly 800 individual Reading Buddy sessions. Many times, over the past two years it seemed that we might not persevere, that a nearly 30-year-old program with documented success in helping children learn to read and develop a love of reading would disappear. But, because of our Reading Buddies, the Harvey Najim Foundation, the Bexar County Women’s Bar Association, Valero, the Mays Family Foundation, the Texas Cavaliers Foundation, Enterprise Holdings Foundation, Roshnic Fashion, all of those who have supported our fundraising events, and our many friends of SAYL donors we are still here, looking forward.
We have learned many lessons during the pandemic that have served to make the organization more efficient and better able to serve our children. We also confirmed what we believed at our lowest point during these dark times: “it always seems impossible until it’s done.” We will be working diligently over the summer on reconnecting with those individuals who have not yet returned to be Reading Buddies and to recruit additional Reading Buddies to join the corps that is marching forward for our kids! Come be a part of the solution to childrens’ literacy, become a Reading Buddy.