Minnesota Reading Corps & Minnesota Math Corps Blog

Launch Your Career with AmeriCorps

Service with AmeriCorps is a great opportunity to gain valuable work experience and give back to your community. As an AmeriCorps member, you’ll increase your monthly income and build new skills while opening up new career pathways. AmeriCorps members receive a living stipend, which, unlike an hourly wage, does not reduce Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) or SNAP benefits. Click here to see how, financially, AmeriCorps can be a better option than hourly employment.

Suzanne PagelLaunch Your Career with AmeriCorps
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#TBT: Our Stories of Service

#TBT: Our Stories of Service

As we celebrate AmeriCorps Week and 25 years of AmeriCorps members getting things done, it’s the perfect time for a throwback Thursday featuring some of our staff reflecting on their time as an AmeriCorps Member.

Suzanne Pagel#TBT: Our Stories of Service
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AmeriCorps in Minnesota: Making an Impact

AmeriCorps in Minnesota: Making an Impact

This year marks 25 years of AmeriCorps! And during AmeriCorps Week, what better time to reflect on the impact of National Service in our state?

Suzanne PagelAmeriCorps in Minnesota: Making an Impact
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Reading Corps Tutors Can Now Earn a CDA Through This New Program

Reading Corps tutors who are interested in the field of early childhood development now have another great reason to serve: the opportunity to earn a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential at no cost. The benefit is set up in a way that provides support while getting the CDA and makes earning the credential simple and affordable.

“Traditionally, if you wanted to get your CDA, you’d have to find a place to get classroom experience,” said Alison Zellmar, Associate Director of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships for Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps. “Candidates are then faced with finding a place to get training, signing up for a verification visit and completing a portfolio on their own,” she continued. “In all, it would cost you about $2,500.”

Inspired by a similar project developed by Michigan Reading Corps, the Minnesota program launched last fall with a target audience of candidates new to the field of childcare and early childhood education. “We wanted to utilize the structure already in our program, and then add a little bit more, so that members have a very coherent and clear path to getting their credential,” Zellmer said. By participating in the program, people get classroom experience, 120 hours of training and an easy pathway to earning the CDA credential. “All they have to do is show up,” she said. “We take care of the logistics, and provide provide support around preparing your portfolio.”

The nationally-recognized credential prepares people for a career in early childhood and prepares them to work in classrooms with students. It is considered the first step in training for an early childhood development career. Sadie O’Connor, Managing Director of Reading Corps and Math Corps, said the CDA program will ultimately help to create a pipeline of qualified and highly effective educators to classrooms across the state.

“We’re excited to launch this new initiative to provide our Reading Corps tutors with a pathway into early childhood teaching,” O’Connor said. “The experience of being a tutor with our program along with the additional training we’ll provide to earn their CDA will position these candidates to be prepared to be highly effective early childhood educators.”

Do you have questions about applying for the Reading Corps CDA program? Contact Alison Jirik at alison.jirik@servetogrow.org.

shayla@serveminnesota.orgReading Corps Tutors Can Now Earn a CDA Through This New Program
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How to Recruit and Retain Your Tutors: Interview with Principal Jim Stang

Principal Jim Stang, of Holdingford Elementary, has had the same two tutors for the past four school years. As both the principal and internal coach for Reading Corps, Stang has a unique perspective on what it takes to recruit and retain tutors. Although he’ll insist that his success boils down to having two incredible tutors — this spring he’ll begin to focus on recruiting their replacements. He was gracious enough to chat with us to share his thoughts on tutor retention and recruitment.

Find the right fit. As a small town (population 717) about 30 minutes from the nearest university, Stang says parents with children in the district are his best prospects. “They want to be in our building and on the same schedule as their kids,” he says. Stang is also trying to be more intentional about connecting with recent high school grads. “Rather than driving 40 minutes to work somewhere else, why not save that time and gas money to do some good here at home?” He notes that with the increased stipend for 2020-21 and the added perk of an education award, it’s a competitive option for some of Holdingford’s recent graduates.

Put everyone on the same team. As both principal and internal coach, Stang knows that everyone needs to understand they are part of the same team. He summarizes the mindset by saying, “We share these students and are focused on doing what is best for them.” At Holdingford Elementary that means tutors are invited to staff meetings, regularly share data with classroom teachers and celebrate successes with the entire school.

Make space. “Space is limited in our buildings, and we’ve all seen things like speech clinicians sitting outside a classroom working on IEP goals,” Stang notes. Having a dedicated space for tutors to work with students on interventions not only helps them feel valued but makes them more effective. This year Stang decided they had exhausted all other options and the best solution was to give up his office. He says he’s pleased with how it’s working out but jokes that the elementary secretary is ready to have him back in his office and out of her hair!

Put it front and center. “We make sure Reading Corps is in our school newsletter and on social media, but we also include them in conferences, parent nights and other events like Grandparents Day,”  Stang says. “Grandparents Day brings 800 people to our building – so it’s a great opportunity to get in front of people.”

Celebrate Success. “Our tutors do a great job of celebrating their students and making a big deal of it when students graduate the program,” Stang shares. Although his schedule doesn’t often allow him to attend, he does his part by sending home a handwritten postcard with a balloon or small treat.

After four years together, Stang says the thought of saying goodbye to his tutors this June is heartbreaking. Although it’s going to be tough moving on, there is a silver lining. Stang knows he’s got a great pipeline should other roles become available in the district.  “When we are hiring, former tutors get my strongest endorsement!”

Need More Ideas? Check out these quick and easy tutor retention tips:

  • Tell your tutor you’d love to have them come back for another year of service!
  • Drop a thank you card in their mailbox letting them know what an impact they are making.
  • Celebrate AmeriCorps Week (March 8-14, 2020). Whether a shout out in daily announcements, blurb in the school newsletter, a breakfast treat left at their desk or photo submitted to your local paper, let them know you value their service!
  • Ask students to draw a picture or write a thank you note.
  • Create a bulletin board celebrating Reading Corps/Math Corps and all the students who have improved their skills.

 

shayla@serveminnesota.orgHow to Recruit and Retain Your Tutors: Interview with Principal Jim Stang
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Design Your Life with a New Innovative Course

Design Your Life with a New Innovative Course

This story was published originally by ServeMinnesota.

Dean Kephart – the Vice President of Insight & Change at ServeMinnesota — has been practicing human-centered design, or design thinking, for nearly 10 years, after studying design thinking principles established by professors from Stanford University. His interest started when he was in community relations and education at Target Corporation and went along with a team of design thinking experts from Target to Joplin, Missouri, a small city devastated by an EF5 tornado. The team offered its time and expertise to help Joplin rebuild using the principals of human-centered design. Three years ago, Kephart was introduced to Designing Your Life, a book and lesson plan to take the principles of design thinking and refocus them to your own lives.

Suzanne PagelDesign Your Life with a New Innovative Course
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Tutoring Took Her in a New Direction

Alumni Feature: Terry Chapel

Terry Chapel had been in the medical field for several years when she found herself longing for a new career. Looking to change things up, she decided to make the move from Oklahoma to Minnesota. That’s when she learned about Reading Corps.

Photo of tutor, Terry Chapel

Terry Chapel, Reading Corps Alumni and PreK Educator

As a lifelong lover of reading, joining Reading Corps seemed like the perfect opportunity. Terry also recognized the great need for tutors. “I was surprised by the statistics,” she shared. “I was sad so many students don’t have the tools to succeed and wanted to give them the opportunity to read and find joy in it like I do.”

NewsTutoring Took Her in a New Direction
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From Banking to Early Childhood Education. Reading Corps and Math Corps Helped this Mom Achieve her Dream of Becoming a Teacher.

From Banking to Early Childhood Education. Reading Corps and Math Corps Helped this Mom Achieve her Dream of Becoming a Teacher.

Stephanie Scierka always dreamed of being a teacher, but the timing never seemed right. About 4 years ago, Reading Corps and Math Corps helped get her there.

At the time, Stephanie and her husband were living in a small town in Pennsylvania where she worked as a loan officer. The thought of teaching was always in the back of her mind. “I wasn’t loving my job,” Stephanie recalls. “I knew I was meant to teach because even at the bank, I found that I was the happiest training and teaching new employees.”

Suzanne PagelFrom Banking to Early Childhood Education. Reading Corps and Math Corps Helped this Mom Achieve her Dream of Becoming a Teacher.
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Evidence-Based Practices Boost Students’ Math Skills in Math Corps

Evidence-Based Practices Boost Students’ Math Skills in Math Corps

Minnesota Math Corps and ServeMinnesota– our partner  in AmeriCorps service and program development — are committed to continually evaluating our programs to ensure they are as impactful as possible, and a perfect example of this concept in action can be found in research on Math Corps.

Math Corps, which was established in 2008, is a program that serves students in grades 4-8 who need extra help in math and is provided free and during the school day to eliminate barriers to attendance. Math Corps is already a marquis program for schools: two large-scale evaluations found that Math Corps students who received Math Corps tutoring made significantly larger gains in math skills than comparable students who did not receive Math Corps tutoring. They were two times more likely to achieve math fact fluency and two times more likely to meet end-of-year math benchmarks.  In these studies, researchers found Math Corps students were a semester ahead of their expected trajectory and getting on track for the academic and career success associated with math proficiency.

shayla@serveminnesota.orgEvidence-Based Practices Boost Students’ Math Skills in Math Corps
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