Lila speaks for the pain and the triumph that students who struggle with reading can experience. Her poems give us insight!
“The children we have helped are a constant solace and inspiration as they go from battered confidence to successful wonderful lives. The children we see who come too late, or are too poorly served when young are a constant prod to do more, become more.” — G. Reid Lyon
Working through Lila’s amazing poems over the past three years has been a voyage to a different way of thinking. Lila, like many of the students who have made the most progress with us, was sad and crushed when we met her. She was a bit withdrawn at the time. She wanted to follow her older sister to Notre Dame Academy, a local girl’s school that has high standards. Ava was there and excelling, and Lila worshipped her. So her mom brought her to the Fluency Factory to prepare for the challenging test that was a prerequisite to entry.
Lila was in the sixth grade at the time. Amy did her assessment, then Amy and I talked with Lila and her mom. The truth was that Lila was not ready to take this test. In fact, she was three years behind in reading, and the shyness and lack of confidence that we saw seemed to stem from that reality.
We worked with Lila to prepare her for the test, but also to teach her to read properly and fluently. At every step she grew livelier and happier, and as she discovered these new strengths she became more animated, more confident. Watching her learn was like watching desert flowers suddenly blossom after a long-delayed rain.
And she is not alone, but the wonderful thing about Lila is she took those challenges and wrote about them. Three years later she and her mom brought a book of poems to me. The book, called Each Step I Take, is remarkable. It is divided into two sections, called Darkness and Light. In Darkness Lila writes about her fears and her experiences as a struggling learner. We have included one of those poems here, along with two poems from Light.
Lila’s ability to relate the impact of her struggles is unique. Over the almost eighteen years that we have had the Fluency Factory we have met many other children who have had similar experiences. Reading is badly taught in our schools, and the students who struggle feel like life failures. And it is all too frequent, for far too many learners, that they give up, as they never are properly taught, and assume the blame is all on them. Where it does not belong!
That is what we hope to change with our site. We want to give every learner a chance to succeed, a fair start in life. A change in the way struggles are viewed and to show parents and teachers that more, much more, can be done!
Lila speaks for so many others who have suffered from this preventable educational malpractice.