This non-profit is an expansion of the student - led literacy campaign, Hooked on Books and the NM Alliance for Literacy (http://nmallianceforliteracy.org/), created by Santa Fe middle school students, their teachers at Santa Fe School for the Arts & Sciences and local high school students in 2012.
Hooked on Books students helped create the ‘Reading is Magic’ Summer Program which trains and hires teens and master teachers for intensive summer reading programs for students who are 1-2 years below grade level in reading.
During the past seven summers, our campers have made, on average, slightly more than one year's growth during each two week camp session, as measured by a standardized reading assessment.
Young children are particularly motivated when teenagers are reading with them and encouraging them to persevere and work hard. We train teen tutors using multi-sensory hands-on, phonics-based strategies for our Reading Quest Tutoring Center, community service outreach, and Reading is Magic work opportunities.
We collaborate with the Mother Tongue and GRADS Teen Parent programs at Capital and Santa Fe High Schoolswhere we train young parents in early literacy practices such as, read aloud, rhyming and phonemic awareness. Several teen parents have now completed the first two parts of our Tutor Training program.
We also tutor low-income and homeless students in coordination with Communities in Schools, Adelante and PMS programs, in addition to providing free training for their volunteer tutors.
Teacher & Parent Testimonials
Reading Quest Board of Directors
Dr. Elise Packard
Executive Director: Rayna Dineen
Director of Operations and Advancement: Donna Boltz
Bill Belzner, M.A., MMHS
Bill is a retired health care and human services administrator. About half of his time over the past twenty-seven years in Santa Fe was spent in non-profit behavioral health management. He spent several years working for the State as the Executive Manager in the Aging and Long-Term Services Department, overseeing the Adult Protective Services and Consumer and Elder Rights Divisions, as well as serving as the Deputy CEO of the New Mexico Behavioral Health Collaborative. Bill had further public experience early in his Santa Fe residency at the City of Santa Fe as the Human Services Planner, overseeing funding and program performance for up to thirty grantee agencies. For four years, Bill served as the Deputy Superintendent and Chief Operations Officer for the Santa Fe Public Schools.
He has also served on 15+ non-profit boards of directors in Santa Fe and greater New Mexico, in areas ranging from youth education to food programs to AIDS services to behavioral health services. He helped found several new programs and agencies over these years, including Santa Fe School for the Arts & Sciences.
Connor Browne is a Portfolio Manager and Managing Director at Thornburg Investment Management. Connor moved to Santa Fe and began his career at Thornburg in 2001. Connor has supported many non-profit organizations in town, especially Big Brothers Big Sisters Mountain Region, where he volunteered as a big brother and served on the board, most recently as Board President. Connor and his wife, Christina, are particularly focused on helping to create better opportunities for at-risk youth in Santa Fe and the surrounding areas.
Reading is Magic made all the difference for my son, when he was a 3rd grader struggling to reach a 1st grade reading level. My first language was Spanish and I struggled to provide him with the help he needed. He is now a 6th grader. He reads at grade level-- and he loves to read.
Professionally, I am a registered nurse. I graduated with an Associate's degree in Nursing from Santa Fe Community College in 2009 and obtained my Bachelors of Science in Nursing at the University of New Mexico in 2013. I worked in Family Medicine at La Familia Medical Center here in Santa Fe and in intensive trauma/surgical/burn care as well as on the Wound and Ostomy Care Team at UNM Hospital. For the last two years I have been working for Christus St. Vincent Hospital as a wound care and ostomy nurse. I was fortunate to be selected to volunteer as a Wound and Burn care nurse in Nicaragua in 2015.
I have been a volunteer with Reading is Magic and Reading Quest since 2014. I serve as a Spanish interpreter and translator for our Spanish-speaking families. It is my honor to give back to the program which has given so much to my son.
Jean Hinlicky, M.D.
Jean received her M.D. from the University of Rochester School of Medicine, then completed residency training in pediatrics and a two-year fellowship in child psychiatry/behavioral pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. During that time, she worked extensively at Kennedy Krieger Institute, a Hopkins-affiliated clinic/hospital devoted to children with multiple developmental
challenges including trouble with reading. Jean’s 30 year solo private practice in Baltimore focused on multi-modality treatment of children with various types of school-learning challenges, and she worked intimately with schools in that capacity. Jean worked for ten years at the Kennedy Institute School and in the Baltimore County public schools as psychiatric consultant, and served on Kennedy’s multidisciplinary assessment team which focused on evaluation and treatment of children with diverse types of
problems in school. Jean feels that her childhood love of reading paved the wave for her future work, but more importantly also provided an outlet and a special solace in childhood. Her hope is to impart that love and skill set to as many children as possible.
After additional training in reading education, Jean signed on as a volunteer tutor with Reading Quest early in 2018, and is loving working with the children who attend Reading Quest and the Reading is Magic summer program.
Elise Packard, Ph.D.
Elise is an independent consultant who has worked with Image theory for over 30 years in the development of programs both internationally
as well as in the United States. These programs have been focused on the development of teachers, as well as facilitators and consultants. She has done extensive facilitation, consultation and training with not-for- profit, for profit and government agencies.
Elise has led a team to develop cultural revitalization and family literacy programs in indigenous communities in New Mexico and
Canada, working also with Head Start and Early Head Start grantees in Illinois, California, New Mexico and Colorado. Most recently she has worked with Save the Children in Rwanda.
She is a founding member of the Interfaith Coalition for Public Education in Santa Fe, working to engage voters and taxpayers in projects that strengthen public education from birth to career.
Her doctoral degree is in Cognitive Psychology, with a focus on adult learning and infant development.
Alicia Vadillo-Romero is a bilingual educational diagnostician in Santa Fe. She arrived in to New Mexico 11 years ago. Since then, she has earned a masters degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in TESOL from New Mexico Highlands University. Alicia was recently licensed as an educational diagnostician by the University of the Southwest. She has extensive experience in early childhood, bilingual, and special education for more than 15 years in both Mexico and the US. When she has free time, Alicia enjoys walking with friends, talking about her daughter, and studying astrology. Alicia currently works for SFPS and is a board member for Reading Quest.
Nick Venditti is a Portfolio Manager and Managing Director at Thornburg Investment Management. Nick works in municipal finance and spends a great deal of time analyzing schools, both public and private, at the primary, secondary and post-secondary levels. Nick’s interests lie in measuring and determining educational outcomes versus the cost to attain those outcomes. Nick and his wife Carlie are strong believers in education as the panacea for most social ills and are particularly focused on improving educational outcomes for children in and around Santa Fe.
Donna Boltz, Reading Quest Director of Operations & Advancement
Donna comes from a diverse background of leadership and communications experience in the public and private sectors. Following her commissioning as an army officer from West Point in 1982, she spent the next quarter century leading military organizations -- ranging from small, highly specialized project teams to large, multi-disciplinary units stationed around the world. When not in command positions, Donna worked as an army public affairs officer at the Joint Staff and Department of Defense levels. Her leadership, organization and planning strengths; graduate degree in journalism and extensive communications experience contributed to her ability later to succeed (simultaneously) as a Director of Business Development for an Alaska Native Corporation and as a small business owner/executive coach. Always dedicated to service within her communities, Donna previously has volunteered and served on boards and committees to support veterans, youths, abused women and community wellness with a goal of improving the lives of others.
Rayna Dineen, Reading Quest Executive Director
Rayna has worked in education for over 35 years. She received two master’s degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University, in addition to doctoral work at Colorado State University. Rayna has taught students from preschool to grade 12 and is passionate about literacy, joyful project based learning, inclusive practices, positive classroom management and service learning.
She co-directed the Carino Community Children’s program for Santa Fe Public Schools and taught children with special needs at New Vistas. She founded an EL Education prek-8 school in Santa Fe, NM (Santa Fe School for the Arts & Sciences) where she served as teacher and principal for 13 years.
Rayna has also worked as an EL Education School Consultant serving Santa Fe Public Schools and schools in Australia, India, New Mexico, Arizona, West Virginia, Utah, Idaho and Colorado. She facilitates national education institutes and works with experiential education organizations both here and overseas. She also currently consults for Discover Learning, a Gates Foundation collaboration between Save the Children and UC Berkeley which supports a project based learning program for children ages 10-11 in Tanzania.
She founded Hooked on Books and Reading is Magic in 2012 and began Reading Quest in 2015. She believes in the power of young people to change our world and loves supporting children as they discover the joy of reading.