As a first-grade volunteer, I often read with Guillermo last year. A teddy bear of a boy, he was (and still is) always neatly dressed, with his shirt tucked in (unlike my certain people in my house), and speaks with a slight lisp, which just makes him more adorable. Initially self-conscious, he told me that he couldn't read. He could, but not as well as many of his classmates.
A second go-round in a different first-grade class has helped Guillermo a lot. These days he's a solid reader. Recently I invited him to come share a book for old times' sake; I like to catch up with my friends. On our way out into the hallway, he said, "Guess what? I'm eight!" He breezed through Ten Apples Up On Top!, using especially dramatic expression during the "We are not/going to let them drop!" part.
"You're reading so well," I told Guillermo.
"I'm a twelve!" he said with pride.
Having hung around modern-day schools for a while, I knew that "twelve" referred to his DRA (Direct Reading Assessment) level. I wish so much for Guillermo, probably the least of which is that we lived in an era where first graders were not aware of their blasted DRA scores. I know it's trickle-down, but, still.
One day Guillermo will own and run his own business. He'll be very good at it. I can't wait to see him in charge.