Caring for Kelly’s Granddaughters

Lily and Ailee

Lily and Ailee posing for a picture.

Kelly Carreon knew that her granddaughters, Lily and Ailee, already struggled so much with reading.  The support services they had been receiving for years at school weren’t helping and distance learning during COVID made it worse.  Kelly searched for tutoring specialized in learning disorders to help them catch up and found KidsQuest.  Since enrolling the girls in January, they’ve been able to access trained tutors and the Barton Reading & Spelling System at no cost. Kelly says,

“I can’t express enough how much it means that there are people out there who care. When I pick them up from their tutoring sessions, they’re just beaming.”

Here’s our interview with Kelly…

LearningQuest (LQ):  Tell us about education and literacy in your family.

Kelly (K):  As far as I can remember, I have never had problems with learning.  I went all the way up to college, but I didn’t get my degree.  Still, I never really struggled so when I saw my granddaughters (Lily, 11 years old, and Ailee, 9 years old) struggling, I really was kind of at a disadvantage.  I didn’t understand that there were people who actually struggled in comprehending or learning.  It honestly opened my eyes to something I didn’t really understand. 

So when they were struggling, I didn’t know how to handle it. I did my research and looked around, but ultimately I felt like I didn’t have the tools to help them myself.  Their mother never had difficulty with reading, writing, or math.  Now that I think about it, my mother (their great grandmother) had a lot of difficulty with learning.  She struggled a lot with it.  I wonder if it skipped generations. I see some similarities between the girls and my mother.  When COVID happened and they started to do distance learning at home, I started seeing they were having trouble.  I knew that with the school, I mean they do the best they can with what they have, but the school programs didn’t seem to be enough to help them.  They’ve been going to those since they were in kindergarten or first grade I believe.

LQ:  What is it that keeps you committed to helping your grandchildren reach their literacy goals?

K:  I worried.  I want them to get all the help they need so they don’t have to struggle their whole lives.  I don’t want them to be at a disadvantage in life.  It makes me so happy to see them making strides.  As I said, I have seen how their enthusiasm has increased when it comes to learning.  When I pick them up from their tutoring sessions, they are just beaming.  They feel so accomplished in what they do and it makes me proud.  We love reading with them.  Just the other day, the youngest was asking my  husband, “I want Piggy and Gerald books grandpa!”  He saw the books at Target the other day and we read it together.  Both of their enthusiasm has changed dramatically since starting the program. 

LQ:  How has KidsQuest helped your family?

K:  I’ve looked into the different systems like the Barton system and they are just so expensive.  You know, some of these programs are hundreds of dollars.  So it was really nice to find out there was a free program out there that would help them.  I saw a flyer one day and quickly took a picture.  I can’t express enough how much it means to me that there are people out there who care.  Because of them, there is a program like this to help people at no extra cost.  I wish I could thank every single one of the supporters in person.  Their tutors have been just so great.  Domonique and Daniela have been incredible with them.  The girls never feel put down or anything by them and it just seems like a perfect fit.  Thank you for what you do. 

LQ:  What advice do you have for parents with children who are struggling with reading and writing?

K:  Just be patient.  Patience is key, especially during these times.  Patience is key.

Ailee and Lily reading

Lily and Ailee reading some of their favorite books.

Third Time’s the Charm for Kevin

Kevin posing with his degree.

Kevin proudly showing off his academic achievement award.

LearningQuest (LQ): What was your story before LearningQuest? 


Kevin (K): “I always had trouble as a kid with school.  I had a problem with authority and I feel like my attention span just wasn’t there.  When mom and I would sit down to do homework we would bump heads even though I had a desire to learn and get more knowledge.  She just couldn’t keep my focus and the same happened in the classroom.  I was able to work with several teachers and go to resource groups, but I didn’t really understand the importance of education. 


The last grade I ever completed was eighth grade.  I had some trouble at home: divorced parents, father wasn’t around, and I just didn’t have that guidance or somebody there to tell me, ‘Hey look, you’re gonna need math someday,’ or, ‘You’re gonna wanna help your own kids with their homework someday.’


In ninth grade I got into drugs and alcohol because I was going through depression and suicidal tendencies.  I managed to make it to about a month left of school when the vice principal told me that I could go on to the 10th grade with D’s or that maybe high school was not for me.  Being a misguided youth, I thought to myself, ‘Well, I have a choice,’ so I decided to drop out of high school. 


Years go by and I see my friends graduate and get their diplomas, it just made me fall into a deeper depression. Time goes on and I find I can get a job without a diploma and it just pushes school away.  When I was in my late 20s I tried going back to school to get my GED, but it was just the same thing – my attention span wasn’t there.  I didn’t feel like I had the focus that was needed to get through school, so I dropped out again. 

More years pass and I have kids.  My oldest son didn’t graduate so I saw myself in him and I did not want that for him.  My second son really took to school and graduated from Beyer High School.  I felt a sense of accomplishment through him because I got to see him walk the stage to get his diploma and I always had that burn inside of me to get my diploma – I just never had the confidence.  


LQ: What finally inspired you to try again and stick to it?

K: I went to jail and I was getting ready to have a daughter at 44 years old so I started to think to myself, ‘Do I want her to walk down the same path that I did or do I want to educate myself so that when she gets into school I can help her with homework or projects?’ She was a motivating force that lit that fire inside me. 

I wanted to get a better career so I can provide a better future for my daughter so I joined LearningQuest while I was in jail and met Abraham.  The little kid in me that got lost for so long finally found his teacher in Abraham.  He gave me that confidence I needed with school and I just gave it my all, studied, and finally grasped what was being taught to me.  It was just something I always wanted in my life.  I couldn’t be involved with conversations when people said, ‘I got my High School diploma,’ because it always hit me hard.  It was like that little boy inside me was crying and now I had the opportunity to get my high school diploma – I owe it all to LearningQuest.  It was the best experience of my life.  I can now join in those conversations and say, ‘Yeah, I went back to school at 44 and got my diploma.’ 

LQ: Was there ever a moment when you wanted to give up again?


K: There was one time I was in class with Abraham and there was some kind of Algebra 2 problem, I just couldn’t get the answer fast enough.  I remember saying something about doubting myself and he told me, ‘We don’t talk like that.’  Any doubt that I had was shattered with the unconditional support he showed me.  It was just a brief moment, but I never wanted to give up.  The people around me, like my daughter’s mom, were super supportive.  It was cool whenever I got the certificates for each test that I passed, I got to show my mom some 20 years later the certificates and the diploma.  It gets me choked up thinking about watching her cry with joy.  There is no bad experience whatsoever and any doubt I may have had I was greeted with the unconditional help and love that was needed to get through what I missed. 


LQ: How long have you been sober?


K: I have been clean now for 13 months and 11 days.  I made a plan with my daughter’s mom, that we wouldn’t try for a baby until I got clean and my daughter was born last June.  She has never seen that person and God willing she never will.  I’ve got to do the things I’ve got to do to make sure it never happens.  


LQ: What are your plans for the future?


K: I joined another program while incarcerated to get a career in truck driving.  They said, ‘Hey, you need to get a diploma.’  Now that I have my diploma and permit, I am in truck driving school and plan to get a job locally.  One of my dreams is to work with people who are struggling with addiction.  Having a diploma will help me get into a junior college and help me pursue that dream later on. 

Kevin and his family

Kevin and his family posing for a photo.