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Impacting others and helping the struggling reader

The impact an educator can have on a child is profound and lasting. For Randy Scott Evensen, the best part about being an educator was teaching children to read and knowing that that skill would influence everything they did for the rest of their lives.

“Once they can read, the entire world is opened up to them,” Evensen said. “That skill alone will have lasting effects on their spiritual, academic, and emotional life. As a first-grade teacher, I have loved being a part of that process for hundreds of children.”

Evensen always wanted to be an educator. He graduated from the McKay School in 1981 in secondary education, but “failed miserably.” He quickly learned that teaching teenagers wasn’t for him. Rather than be discouraged, Evensen went back to BYU and received an elementary certificate.

Although he taught multiple grade levels, Evensen found he most enjoyed teaching children how to read, and he decided to teach the most basic of all reading skills with the first-graders.

Not all children show immediate interest or success when they first start learning. They may struggle or get frustrated when asked to read. For those children, Evensen suggested looking into different books.

“The struggling or uninterested reader is only struggling or uninterested because he has not been given the RIGHT book to read,” Evensen said. “When you match the child up with the right book, [he or she] will automatically become interested. The trick is finding the right book.”

Evensen also suggests that parents read, read, read with their children, regardless of age. When a child is read to every day, that child is more prepared to succeed in school than a child who isn’t.

“It is a simple thing to do, and it will make all the difference in the world to your child’s success in school.”

Now that Evensen is retired, he spends two days a week volunteering in seventeen classrooms a week, storytelling. He mostly shares stories about his childhood and growing up in a rural community in the '50s. This allows the children to create pictures with their minds and draw parallels to their own memories. Evensen hopes this helps the children see how their own stories are important and that they will begin to write and share these stories.

Grateful for his career in education, Evensen believes all people come to this earth with gifts and talents, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to discover what those gifts are, develop them, and refine them in order to bless the lives of others.

Education and teaching was Evensen’s gift, and he’s used it to bless the lives of hundreds of children.

Writer: Megan Bahr

Contact: Shauna Valentine (801) 422-8562