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Retired Beecher educator answers God’s call to tutor for literacy

Featured photo: Dr. Jacquinne Reynolds, Ed.D., Photo courtesy of Dr. Jacquinne Reynolds, Ed.D.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others’? – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When Dr. Jacquinne Reynolds, Ed.D., a lifelong educator, retired in 2017, she prayed, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” His response lead her to start Supporting Opportunities for Achievement through Reading Education, LLC (S.O.A.R.), where she began tutoring children one-on-one to improve their reading skills.

As the client demand rose, she added another tutor, and eventually also two math tutors, Ms. Rachel Harris,
Ms. Valerie Marshall and Ms. Novee Pennyman. They work with children experiencing dyslexia and other
reading and math difficulties. Children who were poisoned in Flint’s lead water crisis are starting to come in
for tutoring as they have learning difficulties.

The backbone of the tutoring program is Dr. Reynolds extensive background in education. She started teaching elementary, then middle school in the Beecher schools, and taught children’s literature classes for adults at Saginaw Valley State University. In the meantime, she was also a student herself, working on her master’s Degree and then her doctorate degree.

Literacy programs with a developed curriculum and personalized instruction are the most effective ways to improve literacy, and this is exactly how Dr. Reynolds program is designed.

“One of my one of my main things that I talk about all the time is to stop saying what your child can’t do,” Dr. Reynolds explained. “Take that word, cut it out of your vocabulary, because they can do it. And those parents of mine who are Christians, I say, the Bible says ‘I can do all things in Christ who gives me strength’. You’ve got to make them see that applies in school, outside school, and you can do it, but it takes time.

“It is so important that children see books that have pictures of children that look like [themselves].” So Dr. Reynolds has designed her programs to be a culturally proficient, student-centered reading literacy enrichment for pre-K through 8th grade. Adults are also tutored.

During the last five minutes of a tutoring session, the children can pick the book they want to read. They tend to choose books with characters that look like themselves. Dr. Seuss books are also a favorite.

“Every child that comes in here, we tell them you got to go get a library card either from the Genesee District Library or the [Gloria Coles] Flint Public Library,” said Dr. Reynolds. “And all my children have library cards. Everybody that we see has library cards.”

She also teaches parents how to build a little library for their scholar easily at home.

Every month, they read and discuss what is happening in the calendar month. Students just finished Spanish Heritage month, and are getting ready to read about veterans and just talk about what veterans are. The important part of their reading is the comprehension, being able to tell in writing and verbally what the story is about.

Comprehension is literacy. When you are literate, you can understand, evaluate and engage with written words to develop your personal knowledge and personal potential.

Illiteracy is the opposite, being unable to read or write. This places many limitations in life, leaving you unable to read maps and road signs for travel, rent or mortgage agreements, food packaging, paperwork sent home from your child’s school, medical information and more.

Limited English Proficient (LEP) is when English is not your first or primary language, and you have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English.

Persons with low literacy or functional illiteracy can read short texts and understand basic vocabulary, but cannot to comprehend advanced texts and vocabulary. They may struggle with basic literacy tasks such as understanding menus, medical prescriptions, news articles or even children’s books.

Shame and low self-esteem are the emotional cost of illiteracy. Hiding illiteracy from your family and employers also takes an emotional toll.

Dr. Reynolds has two students she is particularly proud of. One is a woman getting her doctorate degree, who Reynolds had tutored when she was younger. The other is a woman who had severe COVID and was hospitalized for many months, which left her impaired in several ways. In working with Dr. Reynolds, she is
learning to read again.

“She is just phenomenal; she has made such a gain. I have seen her self-esteem just blossom, because when she first came, she couldn’t do anything. But working with her and just letting her know that I’m here for you, we will take this slow,” is the formula that has been working.

Their website, https://helpingkidssoar.com has many other testimonials and the information you need to start the tutorial program.

S.O.A.R accepts donations of books that will benefit persons learning to read.

S.O.A.R. is located in Word of Life Christian Church, Pastor George Wilkinson, 460 W Atherton Rd, Flint, by appointment only. Contact Dr. Reynolds at DrReynolds@helpingkidssoar.com or (810) 814-2037.

Resources: https://ballardbrief.byu.edu/issue-briefs/illiteracy-amongadults-in-the-us and wikipedia

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