Ingrid Tobar Xico: Surpassing Statistics

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From left to right: teacher Maria, student Ingrid, and mother Juana showing off the ABC book nine-year-old Ingrid created in class. Chimaltenango, Guatemala, February 2015.

One out of every four adults in Guatemala cannot read, and the average education level is a mere 4.1 years—the second lowest in all of Latin America. It is no coincidence that 75.6% of rural Guatemalans live below the country’s poverty line, earning less than $4 per day.

Ingrid Tobar Xico should undoubtedly become one of these statistics; all signs point in that direction. Neither of her parents made it past primary school, and all three of her older siblings have dropped out as well. Her family is poor, uneducated, and stuck. Ingrid’s mother Juana, a housewife, has to deal with an alcoholic husband who makes a meager amount of money farming on good days, and takes out his frustrations with his fists on bad days.

There is one bright ray of hope separating Ingrid from the shadows of a nearly inevitable fate—CoEd’s Culture of Reading Program (CORP). Now in second grade at La Trompeta Primary School, Ingrid is not only able to read thanks to CORP, but has fallen in love with learning. For her, learning is not an obligation, but a bright spot in her day. Learning is fun. It is a chance to defy the odds and become something more than a sobering statistic.

Ingrid’s teacher, Maria, has fully embraced CORP in her classroom, and it shows. Her room is full of high-quality storybooks, “big books” made out of large sheets of paper, smaller student-authored books, and a word wall—all part of CORP’s methodology to engage students in reading and learning. These materials don’t just look impressive, they are revolutionizing Guatemalan classrooms. CORP students show 50% increases in reading skills like vocabulary, speed, and comprehension, and 30% fewer students fail a grade with increased exposure to the program.

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CORP students at Ingrid’s school enjoy an reading activity.

Thanks to the two years of training sessions and in-class coaching CORP provides, Maria now knows that to keep her students engaged and thinking critically, she must read aloud with expression and animation in her voice, showing the pictures to her class and asking them questions. She is an inspiration to Ingrid, who has decided that she wants to be a teacher just like Maria when she grows up.

Ingrid would do well as a teacher; she takes home the small books she creates in class to share with her siblings and to help them with their reading, thus multiplying the positive effects of CORP. Ingrid’s mother is ecstatic that her daughter is receiving such a great learning experience, saying, “Reading is so important for her to be able to live a better life and to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher.”

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Co-founder Joe Berninger visits with CORP students during a recent trip.

Being part of a poor, uneducated family in rural Guatemala should have already sealed Ingrid’s fate, but thanks to YOUR generosity, her life and the lives of thousands more students in Guatemala have been completely changed forever. Ingrid and her classmates are not statistics. They are the future.

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