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Reading Rainbow

Welsley Jongko

For parents of young readers, Wesley Jongko has your number.

She is the creator of the Instagram account Little Literacy Nook, which gives quick tips and a lot of free resources to parents supporting their children with reading at home, and a literary coach and interventionist at Medlock Bridge Elementary School. She is also a busy mom. She and her husband Aaron have two children, Collier (5) and Carson (18 months).

We caught up with her to ask about her job, her life and the importance of reading.

What was the highlight of your week at school?

I was over the moon when two of my students met their reading goal! We set goals in January when we started a new semester. Two of my students set personal goals to increase their words read per minute and they both surpassed their goal. Of course, I made it a really big deal with a lot of cheers and praise. The best part is emailing their parents to let them know the progress we've made. I have the best students and I just feel so excited each time I go to pick them up from their classroom. 

Can you share your new favorite tool, strategy or practice that you use with students?

In my fifth year of teaching, I was trained in Orton Gillingham through IMSE (Institute for Multi-Sensory Education). The Orton Gillingham approach has been a tried and true approach for the students I serve. For the students, they think writing in sand, using crayons with bumpy paper, and getting to use a dry erase board is fun, but as the teacher, I know this is activating multiple parts of their brain to help reading stick in their long-term memory for automatic retrieval. As far as a new approach, I was recently trained in LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) and started implementing "sound spelling mapping" in creative ways. It is a process for students to listen to a word, isolate the sounds, and match each individual sound to a spelling pattern. I love to create fun "spelling mats" to go along with the seasons or holidays or use toys to help students isolate sounds and correctly spell words. 

What advice would you give a younger woman just starting out in your role?

Your first year is your true education. It will be hard and it will be rewarding. You will be exhausted, but nothing beats the first time you see the magic happen with a student whose life you change either academically or emotionally. Lean into your teacher besties, they will get you through the hard days! Never ever, ever stop learning-- learn from your coworkers, students, admin, YouTube, books... there is always more to learn! Lastly, set one tiny goal for yourself to accomplish each day. Truly a tiny goal! On the second day of my first year, my goal was to take a sip of water-- just one!  

Is there a woman in your life who has been a powerful role model?  

I was randomly placed with Stephanie Maxwell for student teaching in Athens more than 10 years ago. She quickly became not only a teaching mentor, but someone I go to and trust with life's big questions. She is the best of the best when it comes to teaching and I still, to this day, use sayings, behavior management strategies, and fun ideas I "stole" from her classroom. I know I can count on her to listen and walk me through experiences she's had as a mom, as a teacher, and as a wife. She always makes me feel encouraged, while recognizing that being a working mom is a very hard balance! 

IG @LittleLiteracyNook

Your first year is your true education. It will be hard and it will be rewarding. You will be exhausted, but nothing beats the first time you see the magic happen with a student...