Setting the Right Foundation

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The most fundamental ingredient of a strong building is a solid foundation. You cannot build anything strong and durable without that. In our program, the Reading and Writing Intervention class is that foundation and Mateo is a testament that it is working.

Our Reading and Writing teacher, Mrs. Maricarmen, works with kids from 1st through 6th grade to ensure that they get caught up on their reading, writing and arithmetic skills if they are behind. We have a partnership with the primary school in which the teachers from there identify kids who are behind or struggling with a particular subject and send them to our teacher for individual work on the subjects they need help with. To us, this is very important because, if a student cannot read or write, they are less likely to remain in school.

“To succeed, you will soon learn, as I did, the importance of a solid foundation in the basics of education – literacy, both verbal and numerical, and communication skills.”

Alan Greenspan

Mateo Enriques is a classic example of a kid who benefits from our program in the way we envisioned when we began offering this class several years ago. Mateo is a 10-year-old third grader who was born with a cleft lip. He has had trouble concentrating and attending the primary school because kids are always harassing and making fun of him because of his deformity. He is a feisty kid and when others make fun of him, he reacts aggressively. He tells our teacher that he “hates primary school” and wishes it did not exist.

He fell behind immediately after starting school and began attending our reading/writing intervention classes since he was in first grade. He never misses our classes. We fell in love with Mateo because we empathize with his situation and understand how a physical deformity can be devastating to a child’s learning and development. He is a very good kid. Almost every week we catch him climbing up mango trees or searching the ground for “nancy fruit” to bring as gifts for Mrs. Maricarmen. He is almost always barefooted and dirty from his adventures. He has a very soft soul, unless someone makes fun of him. Then his face turns into a scowl and he balls up his fists ready to defend his dignity.

The first year Mateo was in our classes, it was evident that he was going to need serious help and attention with his work. He took a long time just to learn to spell and write his name. He does not have a learning disability. On the contrary, when he focuses, he is a very intelligent boy. But that is the thing, he hates school and does not like to focus on schoolwork. Little by little, Mrs. Maricarmen has been making headway with him. A review of his workbook for this year shows big improvements in his writing and spelling and even penmanship. His attendance sheet is spotless.

Gradually, Mrs. Maricarmen has been setting the right foundation with him. Our program has helped him not only with his schoolwork but, most importantly, to view teachers and the school environment in a different light. That is the most important thing for us. We want to set the right foundation so that kids like Mateo can stay in school and dream big.

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