| By Caroline Drexler |
I began my career at Gale as a library sales consultant in February of 2000, moving to my current customer success manager role in 2016. Within my first two years at Gale, I heard about an organization working with students at the local elementary school since 1998 called the Hillside Mentor program. At the time Laurie Fundukian was heading up this program, she worked in the editorial department at Gale for over 17 years.
Typically, each fall the Hillside Mentor team reaches out to the school to determine the start date of the program—we solicit Gale folks to get volunteers. Normally, we get about 30 volunteers, but there is no limit due to the massive amount of kids requesting help. Usually, one or two students are assigned a mentor, for one hour every week. We meet with the student in the library or classroom and read to them while they eat lunch, while trying to encourage them to read to us. Some days, we play a game or talk but as a mentor, our job is to improve their skills by encouraging them to read.
When I joined the program I was assigned a student who was not only a poor reader, but also had many challenges at home. His name was Dylan, a kindergartner at Hillside Elementary, who was living with his grandparents. He was never read to as a child and dealt with the immense struggles of a missing father and drug addicted mother. I could tell he was a very curious child, but had issues focusing on a specific task.