Cervantes is teaching her parents English. With the help of
colorful illustrations and stories about caterpillars who eat
too much, she leads her very own language lesson every time
she opens one of her favorite storybooks.
Raised in a non-English-speaking family, Cervantes used to struggle
with the phonetic tools required for reading. Her busy second
grade class at Powell Elementary made obtaining individual instruction
difficult, and with no English speakers at home, she was unable
to get help with her reading assignments. In an attempt to bolster
Cervantes skills, her mother signed her up for one-on-one
tutoring sessions through the Azusa Reads Program at the Azusa
Azusa Reads, created by the Center for Service Learning and
Research at Azusa Pacific University, sponsors this in partnership
with the Azusa City Library and the Azusa Unified School District
(AUSD). Five days a week, Azusa Pacific undergraduates interact
with AUSD students who are seeking assistance with reading.
Megan Blaze 03, the programs student coordinator,
tutored Cervantes from September to May. Together, they worked
on phonics and books Cervantes could master. Four months into
their lessons, Cervantes read Eric Carles Have You
Seen My Cat? It was the first book she had ever read completely
She was so proud and excited, said Blaze. She
took the book home and read it to her parents even though they
couldnt understand the words.
And then she read it again, and again, and again.
Just as Cervantes skills improved and she brought home
new Eric Carle books, her parents began to recognize the
Nancys mom would try to practice her English with
me when she came to the library, said Blaze. She
really wanted to learn how to speak it and would ask Nancy to
keep reading to them at home. Cervantes scores in
school improved, while her confidence in her abilities soared.
The best part about working with the program is the improvement
I see, said Blaze, a liberal studies major with a concentration
in Spanish. Ive been told I was the one who pulled
a child out of a hole in reading. Tutoring is such a small thing
that I can do to help. The opportunity to impact AUSD
students confirmed Blazes decision to teach in an English
as a second language classroom. This experience has given
me a desire to work with kids, she said. It has
made me more confident that I made the right career choice.
Today, Cervantes reads a variety of books, but Eric Carles
remain her favorite. Between the pages of her books, she discovers
magical adventures, while her parents continue to learn from
the likes of a hungry caterpillar, a busy spider, and a lonely