Extended June Community Highlight: Marti Heck

Marti Heck and her husband and dogsThis month’s Community Highlight is Marti Heck. Ms. Heck, as her 3rd graders know her, came to work at James W. Rice Elementary School in the Alhambra District in 2004 and has been a passionate, dedicated teacher since. Read Better Be Better (RBBB) met Ms. Heck in 2019 when she became the club sponsor of RBBB. She recruited students, contacted caregivers, made sure students came to RBBB, helped take attendance and facilitate the program, and ensured overall student success.

Within the first week of program, Ms. Heck saw the impact RBBB had on students—not just her 3rd graders—but the middle school students, too. “It’s like watching a flower grow,” she said.

RBBB has been at James W. Rice for two years now, and Ms. Heck has seen incredible improvements in literacy and leadership. “It’s not coming from me, it’s coming from Read Better Be Better,” she told us, “RBBB students make personal connections, they make connections to other texts, and connections to the world.”

How do you support your students in RBBB?

“I vocalize to them how I’m seeing their growth, and I tell them how they’re improving—their movie voice, their expression, their confidence. I really try to push on them that I’m proud of them, but that they should take pride in themselves. RBBB gives them pride in themselves! They’re not looking for gratification from somebody else; it’s intrinsic. I really feel that RBBB can change the direction of a child’s life, for both the Reader and Leader. Some of these kids haven’t had success, and this is the first time they get to feel successful. It’s truly magical.”

What impact do you see in your students from RBBB?

“It makes them more confident Readers and turns reading into a delight for them. Even kids in RBBB At Home, they use their movie voice and you can tell the difference. They walk away feeling they’ve accomplished something. They value themselves. They see what they can do. Whenever a student is teaching another student—that is the most powerful thing in education.”

When talking about returning to in-person programming and implementing the family engagement aspects RBBB learned from our At Home program, Ms. Heck went over the moon, “I know it’s going to be powerful.”

Ms. Heck, you are growing a community of strong readers and leaders who can own their future. The tools and skills they learn from you and RBBB will stay with them the rest of their lives. From the bottom of our heart, Ms. Heck, we love you.