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READ Program Empowers New Mentors, Encourages Skill Building

In the heart of the vibrant community at Brooklyn Scholars Charter School, a transformative initiative has been making waves in the lives of struggling learners and English Language Learners (ELL) in grades one and two.
The READ Program, an innovative and impactful endeavor, is the brainchild of Angelica Gonzalez, a dedicated paraprofessional with over a decade of service to the community. This program not only addresses academic challenges but also fosters a sense of community and mentorship among students of different age groups. It’s just one reason the school has outperformed the local district for the past 12 years.

Gonzalez smiling with student.
Brooklyn Scholars Paraprofessional Angelica Gonzalez leads the READ program.

Brooklyn Scholars Principal Roxanne Thomas wrote about the pride associated with the program, and the leadership of her staff members who guide it.
Origins and Community Focus
Angelica Gonzalez, with her wealth of experience, recognized the need for a targeted intervention to support struggling learners and ELL students. The READ Program was conceived as a response to this need, aiming to provide personalized assistance to enhance reading skills and language proficiency. Ms. Gonzalez, driven by her passion for education and the community, collaborated with Academic Specialist Kissy Alexander to lay the foundation for a program that goes beyond conventional education to foster a sense of support and community.
Alexander working with student.Brooklyn Scholars Academic Specialist Kissy Alexander works with a student.

Mentoring through Leadership: Middle School Involvement
Recognizing the potential for positive impact, Ms. Gonzalez and Ms. Alexander included community-based organization, Good Shepherd Services, to recruit our very own high-performing middle school students in grades 6-8. These students, many of whom are part of the Leadership in Training program, embraced the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their younger peers.

Middle school student working with younger student.
High-performing middle school students help lead teaching efforts for younger students in the READ program.

The READ Program, meeting three days a week from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., thrives on one-on-one interactions. Middle school mentors engage with scholars, focusing on essential components such as phonics, sight words, and reading fluency. Their dedication and enthusiasm create an environment where learning becomes a shared journey.

Middle school student working with younger student.
High-performing middle school students help lead teaching efforts for younger students in the READ program.

Expertise in Action: Collaboration and Support
The success of the READ Program is also attributed to the collaboration of skilled educators. Bohyun Min, a second-grade teacher with a specialization in literacy, lends her expertise to guide the program. Randi Washington, an interventionist and content leader well-versed in Reading Mastery, contributes to reading instruction in small groups.
Eighth grader Antoinette Billinger, one of the program's dedicated mentors, shared her perspective on the challenges of working with younger students. She empathizes with her teachers and finds joy in witnessing the moment when understanding dawns on the faces of the scholars. "They got it," she enthusiastically expressed, capturing the essence of the program's impact on both mentors and mentees.
The READ Program at Brooklyn Scholars stands as a shining example of how a community can come together to uplift and empower its members. Angelica Gonzalez's vision, coupled with the dedication of middle school mentors and the expertise of educators, has created a space where learning transcends the classroom, leaving an indelible mark on the minds and hearts of all involved. As the READ Program continues to thrive, it serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for the entire Brooklyn Scholars community.

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About Brooklyn Scholars Charter School
Brooklyn Scholars Charter School is a tuition-free, public charter school in Brooklyn, New York, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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