Tasha Brooks* is an elementary school teacher in the South Bronx. Students at this school, like many other students low-income neighborhoods, face challenges both in and outside the classroom often impact their ability to succeed in their education. Parents are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, families are faced with food and rent insecurity and resources are limited.
Tasha’s classroom was no different.
“Our classroom struggled with reading,” Tasha shared. “We had a limited amount of resources that allowed teachers to read books that were culturally relevant to our community, and with parents working or not understanding themselves, there was no one at home to reinforce the skills learned during the school day.”
, led by United Way of New York City’s Community Impact team, was able to step in and alleviate some of the challenges in Tasha’s classroom, providing texts that were culturally relevant to the students, and were written in English and Spanish. This gave parents the opportunity to read with their children at home, modeling positive reading skills.
“Students really enjoyed the books because they could relate to the characters and they were able to gain a different perspective on their culture in a positive way,” said Tasha.
In addition to supporting the students, investments made into go to support teacher training so that teachers can learn best practices and develop new ways to engage with students facing so many struggles.
“I currently attend monthly meetings that provide me with an opportunity to develop new ways to integrate culturally relevant books to my units for the school year,” shared Tasha. “As a result, my students are extremely engaged with the books we choose to read—keeping them excited and wanting to read more.”
*Names changed to protect