When Delmy García was seven years old, she was told she had a bad heart. “I had to stay at the hospital for a week,” Delmy says. “I was very sad.” She always knew she was different—unable to run outside, out of breath after climbing a few stairs, constantly sitting on the sidelines at recess—but doctors finally confirmed her status as an outsider: Delmy had a heart defect. Her health problems affected her schoolwork and how she related to her peers. Her second-grade teacher at El Esfuerzo Primary School, Tulio Cutzal, says, “Before CORP, Delmy could barely read, and didn’t associate with the other children.” She was withdrawn and timid, not willing to speak up in class or reach out to make friends. She was alone.

Delmy Garcia

Delmy proudly reading her favorite book.

Something happened between then and now, one year after Delmy learned about her heart defect. Once a shy girl unable to write her name, Delmy has been transformed into a confident and capable reader. She participates in class, eagerly raising her hand to answer questions. She has even made some friends. Tulio attributes these positive changes to Cooperative for Education’s (CoEd’s) Culture of Reading Program (CORP), saying, “Before, Delmy was timid and didn’t want to talk in class. Now that we have incorporated this program, she enjoys actively participating.”

Delmy’s situation is not entirely unique. Tulio has witnessed a remarkable improvement in all of his students, saying, “One day we were doing the word wall exercise [a CORP method designed to build vocabulary and reading comprehension skills], and they were getting every single word right. That’s when I knew CORP was working.”

Tulio at El Esfuerzo

Delmy and her teacher Tulio. El Esfuerzo, Chimaltenango, Guatemala

Tulio notes that the students also like writing and illustrating their own storybooks—another CORP method—because they get the chance to put what they have learned into their own words. He declares, “Now I am a facilitator, not a teacher. Thanks to the training I received through CORP, at least 30% of the methods I use in the classroom are completely new, and they are working!”

Delmy’s favorite part of CORP is the selection of brand new storybooks she now gets to use. Her favorite book is called Perdido y Encontrado (Lost and Found), and she reads it aloud with ease, her eyes effortlessly gliding over the letters on the page, her mouth confidently forming the words. When Delmy finishes reading the last page, she gently closes the book and looks up with a huge smile on her face, knowing that she has delivered a perfect performance.

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Delmy’s classmate at the word wall.

Delmy recognizes that she is different from other children, acknowledging, “My heart hurts when I am too active.” But being in and out of hospitals and around healthcare professionals has given her a new worldview. “I want to become a doctor someday to help kids with heart problems just like me,” she says. Thanks to the CORP program, Delmy is now engaged in the learning process and 30% less likely to fail a grade, meaning that her dream of becoming a doctor is more attainable every day. Delmy is different, but not because of her heart condition. Delmy is different because she now has a chance to beat the odds and break the cycle of poverty.

Thanks to YOU, Delmy now has the learning tools to achieve whatever her heart desires.