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Bailey Parker
Ms. Grant
UWRT 1103-046
October 9, 2014
My Journey to Literacy
It was my first day of kindergarten. I remember walking into my new and what seemed to
be enormous classroom like it was yesterday. I was excited, nervous, and scared all at once. Even
though my teacher, Miss Fleming, was a family friend, she could still be very intimidating. I
remember being anxious about growing up and mostly about being away from my mom for
seven hours every day. This all changed immediately when Ms. Fleming approached me on the
first day of class and secretly handed me something. It was something that, to this day, has been
our special thing and something I will never forget - a Reeses cup. Yes, it seems trivial, but
she won my heart with it. From that point on, I was willing to do anything for her and listen to
anything she had to say.
This woman, who I thought was so scary, turned out to be one of my best friends and also
my biggest fan. She would do anything to see me succeed, including hours of hard work in order
to teach me to read. Ms. Fleming was my first ever literacy sponsor. We spent hours and days
and months together learning how to pronounce vowels and put sentences together in the dozens
of Reading Ladder books that appeared to never cease.
With the help of Ms. Fleming, what was such an extremely difficult task when I was five
years old is now so easy. We spent all year focusing on reading. Practice, practice and more
practice is all that our class did. Throughout the year, as the class slowly progressed, we would
be rewarded with a small piece of candy. Mine was always the Reeses cup.
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I grew up hanging around my two older siblings and their friends who could already read
and write. Doing what older siblings do best, they would continuously pass notes and spell out
words to each other so that I did not know what they were saying. Naturally, I was envious and
wanted to be just like them. This gave me the desire to learn to read and write, because that
would make me seem like one of the big kids.
Finally, kindergarten had come to an end and my time had arrived. I had accomplished
the task of reading and nothing could stop me, all thanks to Ms. Fleming. My brother and sister
could no longer tell secrets by spelling words. I could figure out almost every sentence and when
I couldnt figure out a word I would become frustrated which pushed me to practice harder. As
Ms. Fleming instructed me to do, I read my Dick and Jane books every chance I had so I could
understand more words and more sentences. To this day, thirteen years later, I do not recognize
every word that I read, but if it were not for Ms. Fleming I would not even know how to read.
For this I will always be grateful that she was willing to dedicate so much time to helping me
become literate.
However, my journey to literacy did not solely depend on Ms. Fleming and surely did not
end when I graduated from her class. The next year, in first grade, I had another wonderful
teacher, Mrs. Poser, and along with her came a reading group teacher, Mrs. Byrd. Mrs. Poser is
known around the school for something I will always remember. She loves Winnie the Pooh.
Every year for Halloween she even dresses up as Pooh Bear and walks around school greeting
the kids. It is quite amusing, but it is her special thing that she shares with her students. She
also keeps a stuffed animal version of each character from Winnie the Pooh in her room so that
each week a couple of students get to take them home and then bring them back for another kid
to have a turn the next week. This seems silly now that I am in college, but to a first grader it
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meant the world that your teacher trusted you with such a prized possession and in return I
trusted her to shape my literacy skills into what they needed to be.
Both of these teachers spent hours, like Ms. Fleming, teaching me how to read, but also
how to write. Each day we would get a worksheet that had dotted lines on it and we would trace
over them in order to learn the shapes of every letter in the alphabet and how to spell out words.
While doing this, Mrs. Poser would come around helping us work with the more difficult letters
and words. In the meantime, most of the class would work on the sheet and Mrs. Byrd would
take each reading group one at a time to work on our reading skills. She would take us into
another small room and we would practice reading aloud.
I could be biased, but I do believe that my reading group was the best and most special.
We had around six or seven students in our group and we would take turns reading while the rest
of the groups practiced writing. However, our group was different from the other groups for one
reason. Our group was made up of students and one adult. Our school had a janitor named E.J.
who was still illiterate at the age of fifty. Thus, the school offered him the opportunity to join the
first graders reading group to learn to read. He was neither ashamed nor embarrassed and so he
joined my reading group.
I will never forget hearing his sweet voice pronouncing each syllable of every word. It
was such a heart-warming feeling to know how appreciative he was that someone was willing to
teach him how to read. As odd as it may sound, though I was only six years old at the time, he
inspired me to want to pursue my literacy education. Many people think that he was only a
janitor that couldnt read, but to me he was an extremely special person. Mr. E.J. spent at least an
hour with my group every day for the year and he became a friend to all of us in the group. We
all loved to hear him progress and get better at what he dreamed of doing for so long and he
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loved to hear us improve as well. Mr. E.J. happens to be the sweetest literacy sponsor I have ever
had and also the reason behind my decision to take A.P. English in high school, thus bringing
about yet another literacy sponsor, Mrs. Livers.
Seeing Mr. E.J. illiterate at the age of fifty only pushed me harder to pursue my literacy
skills. Therefore, I chose to take A.P. Literature and A.P. Language as a junior and senior in high
school because I knew these classes would help me become a more advanced reader and writer.
In these two classes, I discovered my love for reading. I do not love to read every book I am
assigned since all of them do not interest be, but I did find a couple of works that excelled my
knowledge by challenging me to pay closer attention to the words on the pages all while
capturing my attention. A few of these included the play Hamlet, the first Hunger Games book,
the short story Porphyrias Lover and the book The Great Gatsby.
My favorite book that I have ever read to this day is The Great Gatsby. It was mysterious,
intriguing, dramatic, romantic and so much more. I have never learned more from a book than I
did this one. The symbolism in the eyes on the billboard was fascinating, along with diversity in
West Egg, East Egg and the Valley of Ashes. It will be a book that I recall for the rest of my life
and I never would have read it if it wasnt for the A.P. class.
Mrs. Livers was the teacher in both of my A.P. classes and taught me more about reading
and writing than I ever imagined. She may not have been my first literacy sponsor, but she was
the one who made me understand the importance of literacy and also expanded my literacy skills.
She taught our class about the importance of dissecting each work that we read and the detail that
writers put into the meaning behind their works. The class truly opened my eyes to how much I
could enjoy reading if I really comprehended the significance of the book.
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Additionally, Mrs. Livers helped me to become a better writer. She trained us on how
crucial a thesis statement is to a paper and also how to write them. We spent hours writing
everything from short stories to poems to essays to research papers. She always knew what to
say in terms of constructive criticism to help you write better and she continually encouraged us
on how far we had come since we started. Mrs. Livers recognized the need to make A.P English
an interesting course all while teaching her students to read and write in depth.
In the end, I look back at my journey to literacy and I have so many people to thank.
Between my teachers, my parents and the writers of the books that advanced my literacy, I have
sponsors all over the world who only want to see me succeed. If it were not for my parents
sending me to the school I attended, I would not have gotten to have all of these great
experiences and have such a strong exposure to literacy. From the Reeses cups to Winnie the
Pooh and helping Mr. E.J. to a very serious A.P. class, my journey has been quite interesting and
exciting. Though I have made many mistakes in my literacy career (i.e. failing numerous essays,
papers, reading quizzes and more), they have only helped me to become a stronger reader and
writer.