The second-grade classroom at Pachalí Primary School is humid. A fly buzzes from desk to desk, circling in wide, lazy arcs in an attempt to distract the students’ attention from the front of the room. But teacher Regina Cabjón is reading—and the students are too busy listening.
This is Regina’s second year of training in Cooperative for Education’s Culture of Reading Program (CORP), which aims to foster a lifelong love of learning in children by providing primary school teachers with best practices in reading instruction. Regina is amazed at the difference she sees in her students after implementing the CORP methodology. She remarks, “The students used to be indifferent towards books—now they actually look forward to reading!”
She continues excitedly, talking about how engaged and attentive the students have become, marveling at their new-found critical thinking skills and rapidly expanding vocabularies. “I introduce and explain new words to the students before we read a book,” she says. “Then later that week, I hear them talking amongst themselves, using the new vocabulary words!”
As Regina carefully turns the pages of one of the many engaging storybooks provided through CORP, her students crane their necks to see the illustrations, creeping closer and closer to the edges of their chairs, barely able to contain their eagerness to hear the rest of the tale.
One young girl, Tanya, is especially cheerful as she participates in the various reading activities, from answering questions about the story to writing and illustrating her own book. Her timid smile grows into a wide, toothy grin when she reads. It is hard to imagine that she missed the first part of the year, when her single mother was out of work and could not afford to send her to school. For Tanya, education is a luxury, and she is determined to take full advantage of this privilege.
“Tanya is one of the most hardworking and dedicated students in the class,” says Regina. As one of seven children growing up in extreme poverty, Tanya has learned to utilize every resource available to her. She always completes her homework, even if it means turning it in on tiny, tattered scraps of paper.
Tanya has blossomed into a diligent and eager student through CORP. The program has driven her, motivated her to take advantage of every opportunity for a quality education. For Tanya, reading is the one bright moment in her day, a chance to escape from the clutches of poverty—if only for a few pages. Even at the tender age of eight, she knows that education is the only way to break the cycle of poverty that plagues her family.
Thumbing through her favorite book, Perdido encontrado (Lost and Found), Tanya softly sounds out the words, gaining confidence with every page. She is determined to get it right, to learn all she can, and ultimately, to leave poverty behind. She is determined to succeed.