Leaping Grades and Building Confidence

Meet Heather & Miranda…

Heather Sevo struggled with dyslexia since childhood, but essential school resources helped her start junior high at the same reading level as her peers and maintain top grades through college.  It was an accomplishment that required hard work and dedication from herself and those who helped her.  Heather said, “So, when my child, Miranda, wasn’t able to keep up with the rest of her class in reading and spelling, I knew something was wrong.”

It turns out that Miranda, only being in third grade, indeed had dyslexia like her mother and quickly joined the school’s resource program.  She said, “Although she was learning how to spell and read, it wasn’t the one on one she needed.  It was a small group of kids that met for 15 minutes only two times a week.  She wasn’t learning what she needed as quickly as she was needing it.  By the time she got into fourth grade, she was only reading at a second grade level and spelling was at first grade level at best.  Her self esteem and self confidence was starting to suffer and she was quickly being left behind in her learning.  She was able to piece together and memorize enough to keep her afloat, but not enough to succeed.”

“You only fail if you give up!

If you are doing your best, that is what counts.”

– Sevo Family motto

Heather learned about LearningQuest’s free one-on-one tutoring for dyslexic children using the Barton System through the KidsQuest program held at the Stanislaus County Library.  She said, “I was doing everything I could at home to help her.  I was tutoring her in reading and spelling, but could not afford the Barton System at $350 per level, so I did what I could do.” After enrolling Miranda into KidsQuest and witnessing the commitment from her tutor, Tim Smart, Heather saw a significant improvement in her daughter’s academic success and confidence.  Heather said, “This has been a blessing from God!  We could not afford the Barton System on our own.  This program enabled [Miranda] to get the help she needs with an excellently trained tutor…that has the patience and time to help her.  She has gone from reading at a second grade level to a fifth grade reading level in just one year!  It has given my daughter the confidence to enter into sixth grade knowing that she can read what she needs to read without feeling anxious or defeated.”

Miranda has regained her self confidence and no longer feels pressured to play “catch up” in school.  Miranda said, “My mom keeps me motivated and determined to do my best because she is always there for me.  We talk about what it is I’m learning and she teaches me and takes me deeper into the subject.  She doesn’t just give me the answers, she helps me figure it out for myself.  She encourages me by telling me of her struggles and how she overcame them.  She also tells me about others that are dyslexic and how they have gone on to accomplish great things in their lives.”

“Through KidsQuest, my daughter was given the necessary tools she needed to learn how to read.  Schools are overwhelmed and underfunded.  They do not have the ability to work one on one with a student that needs the extra help.  Without Tim Smart and KidsQuest, my daughter would be entering middle school unable to read,” said Heather.  For other parents struggling to help their child find the resources they need, she says, “Seek help.  Ask for a parent teacher conference with your child’s teacher.  Be strong!  Be your child’s advocate.”

Did you know that many parents in your community don’t know that they can access free educational and support resources?

Bridge the gap for families, like Heather and Miranda’s, by making sure support programs stay available for parents searching for resources.

Learning Brings Mother and Daughter Closer

Meet Hayry & Keylin…

Starting over in a new country was just one more box to check on Hayry Sauceda’s ambitious list of what she needed to accomplish for herself and for her family.  Hayry (pronounced hi-ree) grew up in a loving home with a close-knit family in Estacion Rosales, Sinaloa, Mexico.  “I felt that I was a fortunate girl to have my family.  My life as a child was full of joy and beauty,” she said.  Her family supported her educational goals as she graduated from high school and attended university with hopes of one day becoming a nurse.  However, as she approached the end of the last year at university, Hayry and her husband decided it was time to search for better opportunities that would lead to a brighter future for their daughter.

Once they moved to California, Hayry wanted to get back on track with building a secure life for her family, but realized that “the new language was the main culture shock” when she arrived.  Refusing to be left out of the conversation, Hayry set off on a journey to learn English and started classes with LearningQuest.  Hayry said, “I want to focus on learning English and then pursue a career in the medical field as a medical assistant.”

“My daughter is my main motivation to continue studying and I want to give her the best example…so [she can] also strive to achieve [her] hopes and dreams.”

– Hayry Saucedo

She has improved her English so much through the English as a Second Language and Family Literacy programs that even her daughter gets involved with literacy.  They enjoy hands-on educational projects through the Parent and Child Together (PACT) classes and, thanks to Kids Club, her daughter gets supervised homework help and fun literacy activities while Hayry is in class learning English.  They received brand new books to practice reading together during the Giving Tree Book Drive and in October of 2019, Hayry signed up for the High School Equivalency (HSE) program and graduated in July!

Hayry has come such a long way over the past two years that she has been able to apply her new skills to parenting, she says, “In the class, I learned many new things that make it easier to help my daughter with math and science homework.  My daughter is my main motivation to continue studying and I want to give her the best example…so [she can]also strive to achieve [her]hopes and dreams.”

For those ready to change their lives, Hayry says, “Fight to get ahead.  It is never too late to study since it is your education that will be the best weapon for life.  It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either.  Having an education is important for us and our community.”

“Fight to get ahead.  It is never too late to study since it is your education that will be the best weapon for life.”

– Hayry Saucedo

Did you know that many parents in your community don’t know that they can access free educational and support resources?

Bridge the gap for families, like Hayry and Keylin’s, by making sure support programs stay available for parents searching for resources.

Q & A with Mallory Cantu

Mallory Cantu & Family

Mallory Cantu [far right], a LearningQuest Welfare to Work HSE 2020 Graduate, with her daughters

“Be a better role model for my kids” – Mallory Cantu

Mallory Cantu started her journey at LearningQuest in January of 2020 as a Welfare to Work student.  After only five short months and dedication to studying, she finally earned her High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma, removing one more barrier on her journey.  Meet Mallory:

LearningQuest (LQ): Where did you grow up and what was life like?

Mallory (M): I grew up in El Centro, a small town where everyone knew everyone.  Life was good and I had a good childhood.


LQ: What stopped you from finishing High School?

M: I got pregnant toward the end of ninth grade and never went back.


LQ: Why did you decide to earn your diploma?

M: Be a better role model for my kids.


LQ: Did you have any struggles in the classroom? If so, what were they?

M: No, everything was amazing.


LQ: Were there things (like family, work, etc.) outside of the classroom that made focusing on or completing classwork difficult? If so, what were they?

M: No, I always made time for my schoolwork.


LQ: What are some things that helped you stay motivated, focused and determined?

M: My kids and my goals.


LQ: How do you use what you’ve learned in the classroom in your everyday life or at work?

M: When I cook, my measuring skills kick in, or even when I’m going shopping and I see a shirt that’s 35% off – I start calculating.


LQ: What are your educational goals?

M: To study a little of kinesiology until I can actually get the classes I need to be a physical therapy assistant.


LQ: How would reaching your educational goals impact your family/children?

M: My kids would be so excited.


LQ: What are your career goals?

M: To become a physical therapy assistant. 


LQ: What advice do you have for your fellow students?

M: Keep pushing.


LQ: What advice do you have for people who haven’t started working on their educational goals?

M: It’s a great experience and well worth it.


LQ: Would you like to thank anyone important to your success at LearningQuest?

M: My teacher (Mrs. Josephine Alexander-Hutchins) for sure for giving me the help I needed!


LQ: Thank you so much for choosing to reach your goals with us at LearningQuest, your presence here has been greatly appreciated. Anything else you’d like to share?

M: Thank you LearningQuest team!  You guys are amazing!