Why Timber Joey Reads to His Dogs

Portland Timbers mascot Timber Joey shares how reading aloud to his dogs provides good practice for his volunteer time in the classroom as a Shadow Project reading coach.

New Program Manager for The Shadow Project

Sharon Juenemann has joined The Shadow Project as its program manager, overseeing the organization’s partner schools, including service development, delivery, and evaluation. Sharon was longtime program director for Mt. Hood Community College’s federal prep and access grant (TRIO) for low-income students seeking higher education. Most recently, she was interim director of TRIO at Portland Community College.

Sharon has a master of arts in adult education from Oregon State University, and a bachelor of arts in English from Lewis & Clark College. She has 20 years teaching experience including English as a Second Language for Non-Native Speakers, instructional Spanish, and EvenStart Family Literacy.

“Sharon’s passion for changing educational systems so they truly benefit all children, as well as personal experience with special education in Portland will greatly benefit our organization as we strategically standardize and grow our programs to serve more schools and children,” said Shadow Project Founder and Executive Director Christy Scattarella.

The Shadow Project’s mission is to make school more accessible and engaging for children with learning challenges, so they can achieve their full potential.
By equipping classrooms with innovative tools and strategies tailored to diverse learning needs, The Shadow Project has teamed with schools to foster success for more than 10,000 students who typically read one- to three-years below grade level, and have challenges such as dyslexia, ADHD, and autism.

View or download the full release. (PDF)

The Shadow Project Celebrates 15 Years

To celebrate 15 years of changing lives for children with learning challenges, KGW-TV joins The Shadow Project in a Sitton Elementary classroom where children in special education are finding the courage to read.

New Program Manager for Shadow

New Program Manager for Shadow

Sharon Juenemann first heard of The Shadow Project when her son came home from school two years ago with Pokemon cards that he had earned from his teacher for setting and achieving goals in the classroom.

“He still talks about earning Shadow Bucks, and selecting the cards at the Shadow Store,” said Sharon, Shadow’s new program manager, who began early March. “At the time, I hadn’t heard of Shadow, but I did a little research, and liked what I learned.

“I am thrilled to bring to Shadow my passion for changing educational systems so they truly benefit all children, and decades of experience in supporting underserved young people.”

Sharon was longtime program director for Mt. Hood Community College’s federal prep and access grant (TRIO) for low-income students seeking higher education. Most recently, she was interim director of TRIO at Portland Community College.

Sharon has a master of arts in adult education from Oregon State University, and a bachelor of arts in English from Lewis & Clark College. She has 20 years teaching experience including English as a Second Language for Non-Native Speakers, instructional Spanish, and EvenStart Family Literacy.

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Building the Confidence to Read Aloud

Building the Confidence to Read Aloud

For many children with learning challenges like dyslexia, who are one- to three grade levels behind in reading, the idea of sharing a book aloud is fraught with anxiety. Finding the courage to overcome the fear of reading can be a battle.

“I don’t like reading because I’m not good at it,” says fifth grader Kaleah.

But not on Shadow Day.

At Sitton School in North Portland, the kids in Mandee Bish’s classroom have picked out their favorite books to share with a new friend—a black and white poodle named Molly, who is there to listen to their reading.

Educators say that dogs make great reading partners because they can gently nudge students to keep going, or strategically place a paw to offer support and enhance focus. Dogs also have a calming effect that can reduce anxiety, and their quiet presence boosts confidence, courage … and reading comprehension.

Indeed, Molly quietly lays on her blanket and sets her chin on the kids’ legs, closing her eyes to the soft sound of the students’ reading. No matter that their words are sometimes halting. No matter that they miss some words or mix up letters. Molly patiently listens, and the kids finish their books and forget for a moment their struggles with reading.

“That was so fun!” says Kaleah. “I can’t wait to read again!”

Shadow Day is an annual event to honor Shadow, a dog born on Valentine’s Day, who is the inspiration behind the nonprofit Shadow Project. The Shadow Project arranged for Molly’s visit in collaboration with Columbia River Pet Partners to celebrate its 15th anniversary in Portland Public schools, and the fourth year in the district’s innovative, collaborative Read Together initiative, which is focused on literacy in underserved schools.

“Year after year, two-thirds of Oregon children with disabilities miss the critical benchmark of third grade reading proficiency that predicts high school graduation,” says Shadow Project Founder and Executive Director Christy Scattarella. “If our community is truly committed to increasing graduation rates, we urgently need to address the overlooked one in eight children who learn differently. Providing students with learning disabilities access to the tools they need to achieve is critical.”

The Shadow Project began in two classrooms in Duniway School, becoming a 501(3) organization in 2003. Since then, Shadow has fostered success for more than 11,000 Portland children with learning challenges.

“I am so grateful to The Shadow Project for their vision and leadership in our schools,” says Bish. “They are integral to our program of serving students with more intensive learning and behavior support needs.”

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