If you know anything about robots, you know we’re not programmed to accept mediocrity. We aim for the stars every time, which means we give our all no matter how big or small the task.

Truth be told, I hold RBBB’s site leaders to the same standards. After all, if we’re going to help solve Arizona’s literacy crisis, we’ve got to be better, right?

I recently spoke with one of our exceptional site leaders, Samantha Ness, who gave me some invaluable insight about what it’s like to be a site leader for RBBB, how this role is helping her as a student teacher, and the overall impact the program is having on her.

Making a Little (and Big) Difference

Student teachers make perfect site leaders. They’re passionate about education, they understand the power of a good book, and they’re dedicated to making a difference in children’s lives. Samantha is no exception.

She knows how crucial a program like RBBB is – and how effective it is for these struggling students to get one-on-one attention from their Bigs.

Samantha noted, “I am learning that each student has a story and that they have the capacity to be incredible humans who bring change to our society. They want to please their teacher and excel in life. They just need someone who is going to listen to them and support them to accomplish the goals and dreams they have set for themselves.”

That last line sums up RBBB’s mission quite nicely, doesn’t it? The program is providing our Littles and Bigs with the tools they need to succeed, and site leaders like Samantha are the ones who ensure they’re putting them to good use.

“The students are working together consistently on reading,” Samantha continued. “Not only do they focus on reading but on their cognitive development and improving the thinking processes. The structure is set up very cooperatively.”

Pardon me while I do my happy dance! (Which consists of me rolling around in a few circles while making some beeping noises. It’s a sight to behold, trust me!)

Leadership, Learning, and Literacy

In school, Samantha is faced with hypothetical teaching situations. But through the RBBB program, she is able to get firsthand experience.

“I loved getting a better, more realistic view of classroom management. Through RBBB, I’m given the rare chance to take everything I have been taught in my classes and am currently learning and use it on real students.”

She continued, “I am the only adult in the room for a majority of the program. I am given the control of a facilitator. These duties include: taking attendance, enforcing curriculum, classroom management, progress checks, and helping Bigs form relationships with the Littles. In the past few weeks, I had a suggestion which could better the program in terms of office work, and I was given full support from Sophie to take the idea and run with it.”

It was exciting for me to hear what Samantha is getting out of the Read Better Be Better program as a student teacher — especially the important lessons she’s learning:

“I have learned that not everything is going to go exactly how the textbook says. I am learning problem-solving skills daily. I am also learning how to time manage myself along with a class of 30 students. The students are placed in tables, and they all do not finish at the same pace. I have had to learn monitoring and pacing depending on the class. The biggest lesson I have learned is how to plan, and differentiate the plan according to the day and the students.”

Hearing those words sent an electric current up my central processing unit! The RBBB program isn’t only beneficial for Littles and Bigs, it’s giving site leaders like Samantha the opportunity to turn their education into instrumental, firsthand experience.

I’d like to send a big “thank you!” out to Samantha for sharing her story with me and for all her dedication and hard work as a site leader for RBBB.

We’ve Set Our Sights on Site Leaders Like You

While student teachers make wonderful site leaders, you don’t have to be in education to join the RBBB team.

Anyone who is passionate about education and literacy (and who has an affinity for robots) can apply to be a site leader (we’re hiring!) and make a difference in children’s lives through the Read Better Be Better program.

Dr. Dave signing off!