East fourth grader Grisel Moriel stand next to the chart tracking student progress in the Passport to Reading program. Moriel is the only student with her name on the list of those who have met the goal of reading 20 books.

Photo by Darian Warden

East fourth grader Grisel Moriel stand next to the chart tracking student progress in the Passport to Reading program. Moriel is the only student with her name on the list of those who have met the goal of reading 20 books.

East fourth grader overcomes language barrier, leads school in Passport to Reading

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Passport to Reading Update

As of January 11, 2013, students have earned a total of 1,994 stamps in their passports, 800 more than the last count in early December.

When fourth grade teacher Linda Davis met then third-grader Grisel Moriel last year during the Girls on the Run program, Moriel was unable to speak English and communicated with the group through a translator.

One year later the East fourth-grader now is in Davis’s class and her name is the only one featured on a list denoting students who already have met the goal of reading 20 books for the Passport to Reading program.

Although her English is still a little broken, Davis says Moriel has grown in leaps and bounds, unrecognizable as the little girl who couldn’t speak English only last year. The teacher credits the Passport to Reading Program for helping improve Moriel's vocabulary and reading skills — she has to pass a test to earn a stamp for every book she’s read and so far has earned a 100 percent on each test. Her math scores have improved as well.

“It’s just changed you hasn’t it,” Davis said to Moriel. “You’re growing and growing in reading and language.”

Moriel, who was born in Texas and then moved back and forth between Mexico and Colorado before returning to Colorado last year, said she feels good when she receives a new stamp in her passport. The program even has her exploring new genres such as reading the newspaper, a magazine or a recipe along with reading to her two younger sisters.

Davis said Moriel recently read the whole class a story in Spanish then translated it to English, saying it was a good opportunity for other students in the class to hear another language.

Overcoming the obstacle of a language barrier took plenty of work for the fourth grader, especially since her parents only speak Spanish. But Moriel is determined, which will come in handy for the big dreams she has.

When she grows up she wants to be a doctor.

“She’s amazing,” Davis said. “She’s like a sponge. She’s so self-motivated I don’t even have to ask her to read. She wants it so bad. Just a sweetheart, she’s a dream to have in class.”

To peers who might not like to read, Moriel said she would tell them they should stick with it because they can learn something new every time.

“It’s not bad to read," Moriel said. "It’s fun.”

Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or dwarden@craigdailypress.com

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