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“The last time always seems sad, but it isn’t really. The end of one thing is only the beginning of another.” 

― Laura Ingalls Wilder, These Happy Golden Year

Wow what a year it has been!  Yes, we are quickly approaching the end of the 2023 – 2024 school year and are trying to prepare ourselves to say goodbye to our students – a moment that always proves much harder than most ever imagine.  Whenever asked to describe our Reading Buddy Program to people who are not acquainted with it, we always emphasize that we are both a reading and mentoring program. Those of you who are, or have been Reading Buddies, know what we mean. For the better part of 9 months, once a week, you have spent time with the same student, listening to them read, reading with them, playing literacy games, or just listening to their life happenings and concerns. 

We pride ourselves as an organization, with being able to quantify the gains our students make in their reading skills. We are able to collect test data from the beginning of the year through the mid-term and end of year. By analyzing this data, we know that academically we are making a difference. But we also know, though not quantifiable through any type of test, that we are making a difference in our students’ social and emotional wellbeing. Anecdotally, year after year, we record accounts provided by Reading Buddies of students “blossoming” as the year progresses.  Children who come to us reluctant, unsure of their abilities and apprehensive, leave with a greater sense of self. Some of you who may scoff at these observations need only become a Reading Buddy and experience it firsthand. Does that sound like we are challenging you…? Yep! Putting yourself in the life of a child and becoming another caring adult for them is truly a superpower!

In closing, although we have many things to celebrate, such as the reestablishment of our university partnerships with St. Philips College, and St. Mary’s and  Our Lady of the Lake Universities and the return of our university student Reading Buddies, along with the growth in numbers of Reading Buddies in general, we hope that all of you reading this will help us eliminate a negative residual of the pandemic.  We have discovered that because of the shift and sometimes complete loss of teachers and building administrators who were familiar with the overwhelming success of SAYL’s Reading Buddy Program, we are having to reintroduce ourselves on many campuses.  We need you, our Friends of SAYL, to spread the word about who we are and what we do for the children of San Antonio. 

Yes, we are rapidly approaching “the last time” with our students.  Yes, it is sad.  But we will hold tight to the notion that “The end of one thing is only the beginning of another…” for our students as we send them on to continue their journey armed with a heavier toolbox. 

Roger Monsivais