Community volunteer Melinda Lafitte may not realize it, but she’s an important part of Uplift Summit International Preparatory School’s success story in Arlington. Each week she makes the 30 minute drive from Dallas to do a simple but impactful thing: reading to kindergarten scholars.
For our youngest scholars, many of whom start school speaking only Spanish or with limited English proficiency, listening to stories gives them a chance to hear words used in context and more quickly than one might expect, build a robust vocabulary.
“I love reading to kids. The kindergarteners come to school and everything is so new to them. Their teachers do an amazing job managing all of them. I know it really helps when they get a little extra help,” she said.
Melinda began volunteering two years ago, when she expressed interest in supporting the schools.
As she’s spent time reading with the scholars each week, she’s had the opportunity to see how even the youngest scholars are impacted by the expectation that they will go to college.
“They start school in the fall with little or no reading or spelling skills. By the end of the year they are doing both so well. And they hear their teachers talking about college the minute the kids walk through the door. Both helps them get on the course to go to college from the minute they begin at Uplift,” she explained.
In addition to reading to Uplift Summit kindergarteners, Melinda has caught the vision for helping to promote college success. Last year, she co-chaired the College Signing Day tailgate luncheon, encouraged her friends to get involved with Uplift, and mentored a senior at Uplift Peak Preparatory in East Dallas through the college application process.
“As a mentor, it’s fun to watch the college application process and see how the seniors mature and prepare to leave home. The support Uplift counselors provide is amazing. Not only do they help the scholars choose appropriate colleges but they help them find scholarships so they can go to college at very little cost to them,” she said. Last year 388 Uplift seniors were offered more than $67 million in scholarships, grants and financial aid.
Melinda continues to communicate with her mentee even beyond high school graduation.
“I love being at any of the Uplift schools. The feeling is so upbeat and what those teachers are doing is amazing. I love each and every child I have ever encountered. I am so impressed with the discipline in the classroom and the learning environment. This is a special thing that is happening. Every child deserves a good education and Uplift is making that possible for so many children that would not have that opportunity by going to the public school in their neighborhood,” she said.