Dr. Seuss writes, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Mrs. Kim Suydam, reading specialist at Bancroft Elementary School, makes this concept the focus of her work with students. She comments that reading opens up new possibilities of learning for students, allowing them to guide themselves through the world. She has made opening that gateway for students her primary responsibility.
“There is something so rewarding about teaching a child to read,” says Mrs. Suydam. “The spark of joy in their eyes when they’ve read their first sentence or paragraph or book—it’s an indescribable feeling. When I see pride on a student’s face, I know I’m in the right profession.”
Mrs. Suydam graduated from West Chester University with a Bachelor of Science in education and a minor in reading, and has worked in Kennett Consolidated School District since her student-teaching days. She taught 2nd grade and 3rd grade before earning a master’s degree from West Chester University and receiving her certification as a reading specialist. She now works with young readers at Bancroft Elementary School, but has also worked at New Garden Elementary School and the Mary D. Lang Kindergarten Center.
The majority of Mrs Suydam’s day is spent teaching targeted reading groups, but she has served in many capacities beyond her specialty at Bancroft Elementary. As a Title I Interventionist, she presents Title I information to Bancroft staff and families. She also plans and hosts the school’s Family Night, sets up its after-school tutoring program, organizes its summer reading program, helps set up a summer school program for students, and is part of the school assessment team.
“As I’m sure most teachers would agree, my toughest challenge is time,” says Mrs. Suydam. “We all play many roles in our jobs. Teachers are creative individuals who can really maximize a 30-minute block of time to provide motivational and interactive lessons.”
Indeed, Mrs. Suydam takes on an impressive number of duties that support the students attending Bancroft Elementary School. She has participated in Responsive Classroom training, an approach to teaching that focuses on the connection between academic success and social-emotional learning; she serves on the Building Leadership Team and the Word Study Committee; and in years past, she was herself an after-school tutor. In addition, Mrs. Suydam has been a summer school teacher, hosted book clubs, and organized Reading Olympics. She even traveled to China one summer with her colleagues and spent three weeks teaching English at a summer camp there.
At home, Mrs. Suydam is an avid reader. She enjoys spending her summers at the beach and enjoying as much time as she can with her husband and 1-year-old daughter.