April 29, 2020

Staff Spotlight – Shenae at P.S. 110

Amidst all she does as a mom of three boys, a social work grad student, a published children’s book author, and much more, Shenae Osborne is also the Read Ahead Program Coordinator at P.S. 110 on the Lower East Side. Program Coordinators oversee all aspects of Read Ahead at each partner school, doing everything from keeping in touch with mentors, to working closely with school staff, to gathering students when it’s time for Read Ahead Session.

Shenae, wearing a baseball cap from her alma mater Fordham University, standing in front of a body of water
Shenae Osborn

Tell us a little about yourself! When did you join Read Ahead, and what do you do outside of the school day?

I enthusiastically joined the Read Ahead staff in August 2019 [as the P.S. 110 Program Coordinator].  I love making a positive impact through socialization which Read Ahead encourages through providing an amazing staff, wonderful mentors, supportive school staff and happy kids.

As a mother of three boys, no day passes without a little adventure. Aside from being a mom, I am also a social work graduate student working towards making a positive impact in this world. This is why I love working with Read Ahead. I am blessed to work with amazing children and their incredible mentors. Everyday offers us an opportunity to learn something new and there is always something a kid can teach us! The mentors I work with are fun, interactive and genuinely enjoy visiting with their students.

During my time away from Read Ahead I manage to stay quite busy but one of my newest enjoyments is volunteering as a Crisis counselor. I also enjoy taking my boys for walking adventures in the city- you never know who or what you will run into and learn.

What is it like at P.S. 110?

P.S. 110 is a wonderfully welcoming school. From the moment one walks into the school every member, from security up to the principal are friendly and helpful. The staff at P.S. 110 encourages communication and support so that every person feels comfortable to do what is needed in an embracing environment. The children are jovial and adorable especially when they walk past the library, where Read Ahead is held, and they peek their little faces in to say “hello”. The funny thing is, more often than not, many of these children aren’t even part of Read Ahead. The kids at P.S. 110 are happy and it shows.

Please share a favorite story or anecdote from a Read Ahead session.

Every experience at the school is fun and unique but if I had to choose one that stands out, it would have to be  when one of our mentors brought in a new game. This game was supposed to be a bit competitive and it was so much fun to see groups gather to win. This really showed teamwork and brought a lot of laughter. It is always fun to hear my bell go off, to let the group know time is up, and you see everyone disappointed that the session has come to an end. It is a time where kids feel special because their mentors and I not only want to be there, but strive to be a positive influence in their lives. The kids feel the optimism as seen in their excited arrival and their desire to let the moment with Read Ahead last.

Why do you think a program like Read Ahead is important?

Many children lack genuine emotional support which is crucial in their development. For many, Read Ahead time is a moment where they are given one on one attention, they matter and they feel supported. The mentors and I are there for them without hesitation. For many of these children, Read Ahead will leave a lasting memory reminding them that they matter and we care.

Please share a recommendation for a book you’ve enjoyed, and why. This could be something you’ve read on your own, or a children’s book that you recommend for Read Ahead sessions!

Hands down my favorite children’s book is You are Special by Max Lucado. This is a book that teaches children that negative words and labels do not matter because we are all special. I think we all tend to allow bullying words to get to us and reading this book to children helps remind them that there is a higher power that created them because they are so special.

Another book I find to be special is one that I wrote actually called, Tilly Turtle: First Day of School I was inspired by not only my children but so many others that I saw fearful of what others thought of them. This book teaches children that being unique is not only amazing but makes us special. As Tilly has a pink shell while all the other turtles have green shells, you can only imagine her fears on her first day of school. Tilly ends up having a pretty fantastic day- pink shell and all.

Do you have any tips or recommendations for fun or relaxation during quarantine?

Favorite Movie: My kids can’t stop watching Disney’s Zombie Movie

Favorite Movie (at moment) for Adults: About Time

Favorite Website for Kids: Go Noodle!

Favorite Home Workout: Doonya Bollywood on Prime

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

This is a time of reflection. We don’t know when the city will re-open and as many of us are used to making future plans, that is not possible in the moment and this really is a time to practice living in the present. We are being given the opportunity to spend time with family, reflect on what is important, catch up on relaxation as we are expected to stay home and not shuffle around the city. This is your time and it is a gift.

Read Ahead loves to share great stories from our community – we hope they bring a smile to your face! Do you have a story to share, or an idea for something you’d like to see on our blog? We’d love to hear from you! Contact us at communications@readahead.org