Minnesota Reading Corps & Minnesota Math Corps Blog

Kicking Off a Year of Service!

This week, Reading Corps and Math Corps members across the state kicked off their year of service! While getting to know each other and more about the year ahead, they pledged to get things done in their communities. Service Kick-offs were held in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Willmar, Rochester, Detroit Lakes, Grand Rapids, Mankato, Mounds View and Sartell. A very special AmeriCorps thank you to Representative Jennifer Shultz (Duluth) and Senator Carla Nelson (Rochester) who attended Kick-Offs in their cities and led the AmeriCorps pledge.

With so many passionate people beginning their service, there has been great coverage from the media.
(Click the image or buttons below to check out the buzz.)

Next week, tutors from across Minnesota will gather at the Minneapolis Convention Center to complete training in evidence based interventions, progress monitoring, data collection, benchmarking and more. Stay tuned for more updates!

If you or someone you know would like to give their time as a tutor this school year there are still opportunities to begin in September, October and January! Tutors can choose to serve 18, 25, 35 or 40 hours a week. While they serve, members receive great perks like a stipend every two weeks and up to $4,200 for college tuition or loans. Health insurance is available at no cost to members serving full-time (35+ hours a week) and childcare assistance is available to eligible families. To learn more, visit readingandmath.net.

Want great stories like this delivered to your inbox?

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter for Alumni and Friends.

Suzanne PagelKicking Off a Year of Service!
read more

Reading Corps and Math Corps in the News

It’s always fun to be featured on KARE 11! Program manager Lizzie Morris and tutor Youa Xiong were recently highlighted in a segment that called for more reading and math tutors throughout the state. Minnesota Reading Corps and Math Corps are currently looking for about 500 more tutors in the Twin Cities metro and another 500 tutors in greater Minnesota for the 2019-20 school year. Be sure to watch the story and check out some behind-the-scenes photos below!

 

Lizzie Morris, Program Manager


Youa Xiong, Literacy tutor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to KARE 11 for helping us spread the word that Minnesota kids need reading and math tutors. If you or someone you know could give your time to help students in need, visit readingandmath.net. #BeMoreMN

Want great stories like this delivered to your inbox?

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter for Alumni and Friends.

Suzanne PagelReading Corps and Math Corps in the News
read more

The Need is Now — Opportunities to Serve in Longfellow

There has never been a better time to give back to your community! Reading & Math, Inc. (home of Reading Corps, Math Corps, Opportunity Corps and Recovery Corps) has 14 opportunities for Longfellow residents to serve with AmeriCorps and make an impact in their neighborhood. Through AmeriCorps you can:

  • Tackle the achievement gap by working to help students build skills and confidence
  • Work to bridge the opportunity gap by helping individuals find and keep good-paying jobs
  • Support those in recovery as they chart a new course in the community

Choose to serve 18, 25, 35 or 40 hours a week. While serving, members receive great perks like a stipend every two weeks, additional funds for housing assistance and up to $4,200 for college tuition or loans. Health insurance is available at no cost to members serving full-time (35+ hours a week) and childcare assistance is available to eligible families.

Current opportunities in Longfellow include the following sites:

To be part of meeting critical needs in Longfellow, visit the links above, email recruitment@servetogrow.org or call 866-859-2825.

Want great stories like this delivered to your inbox?

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter for Alumni and Friends.

Suzanne PagelThe Need is Now — Opportunities to Serve in Longfellow
read more

Fast Forward – How Service Shaped One Alumni’s Career

Throughout the state, past AmeriCorps members continue to make a big impact. Using skills they refined during service, our alumni stand out among other applicants in terms of professionalism, communication, practical experience and more. AmeriCorps is a launching pad for leaders! 

Recently, Reading Corps alum Briana Gruenewald was recognized as one of Finance & Commerce’s Rising Young Professionals, an annual list featuring successful, young leaders in Minnesota businesses.

Upon earning a degree in journalism and marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Briana served with Minnesota Reading Corps as a literacy tutor and ThreeSixty Journalism as a VISTA member. “I joined Minnesota Reading Corps as a preschool literacy tutor right after graduating from college,” Briana said. “With a journalism degree, I knew I didn’t want to be a journalist but didn’t quite know what career move I should make next.”

As a Reading Corps tutor, Briana served PreK students at American Indian Magnet. Looking back she says her year of service was more than she could have hoped for. “Not only was I making meaningful relationships with students, but I knew I was helping grow their literacy skills because there was data to prove it.” As part of her Reading Corps service, Briana joined a corps-wide communications committee to help recruit tutors. “I truly felt like I was living the dream of getting to make a direct impact on preschoolers’ lives and ensuring many more tutors were recruited to continue the legacy.”

Through service, Briana found a passion for mission-driven work and the nonprofit sector. Today, as a senior account executive and graphic design lead with Bellmont Partners, a public relations agency based in Edina, she focuses on nonprofit clients like Second Harvest Heartland, People Incorporated, MnFIRE, Midwest Dairy and more. “Every day, I get to contribute to life-changing missions – and my AmeriCorps service prepared me for it.” 

Be sure to check out Finance & Commerce’s recent Rising Young Professionals of 2019 feature on Briana. We’re so proud she’s part of the Reading Corps family!

Photo: Sharolyn B. Hagen Photography

Want great stories like this delivered to your inbox?

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter for Alumni and Friends.

Suzanne PagelFast Forward – How Service Shaped One Alumni’s Career
read more

Building Math Muscles

Guest Writer: Therese Folsom, Math Enrichment Tutor at Westwood Elementary in Zimmerman, MN

As a Math Corps tutor, I spend my days at Westwood Elementary School in Zimmerman, Minnesota. After retiring from a human resources analyst position with Target, I found that I missed the stimulation of working with a team of people to solve problems. When I saw there was an opening for a math tutor at Westwood Elementary, it seemed like an excellent fit for me!

I knew the position would enable me to help students, but what I did not realize was the extent to which the position would help me grow as a person. The training Minnesota Reading and Math Corps provided was excellent. My coaches and manager were a wonderful support system and helped me succeed.

While at the school, many of the students in my group were quick to tell me that they were not good at math. I let them know that almost everything takes practice and that we would practice together to build their “math muscles”. The weeks flew by and the end of the school year arrived.

During her last session with me, one of my students took my hand and said, “I hated school until I got to come to Math Corps.”  When I heard that, my heart melted and I vowed then and there to spread the good news of Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps.

In August 2019, Therese will begin her third term of service with Minnesota Math Corps. She’s looking forward to helping more students build their skills and confidence!

Want great stories like this delivered to your inbox?

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter for Alumni and Friends.

Suzanne PagelBuilding Math Muscles
read more

Why I Know Early Literacy Matters

By Lindsay Dolce, J.D.
Republished with permission from ServeMinnesota

Editor’s Note: Lindsay Dolce is the Chief Advancement Officer for Reading & Math Foundation, which advances the replication and expansion efforts for the proven Minnesota Reading Corps model and the Minnesota Math Corps model in new communities nationwide.

In 2002, when I started a new job as an attorney working on family law matters, I had no idea that nearly 20 years later I would leave the practice of law to pursue a career that allows me to support nearly 40,000 children each year with critical reading and math interventions.

Lindsay Dolce, J.D.

The path was not a straight line, in fact it was quite curvy but the common thread all along was that I wanted to be a voice for children who are not able to advocate for themselves. Over the last 20 years advocating for “littles” I have learned a few important facts. First, I have NEVER met a child who is not “ready to learn.” Children are born with an amazing sense of curiosity and adventure. They bring that with them when they show up at school for the first time, and what I know is that AmeriCorps members who choose to serve in school settings are able to turn that curiosity and sense of adventure into something exceptional … growth. The AmeriCorps members who choose to serve as a Reading Corps or Math Corps tutor often tell me that they weren’t quite sure what they were signing up for but it exceeded their expectations. Having a chance to support children in their learning journey and provide hope about their ability to achieve is the greatest gift a person can give a child.

I am honored to help lead an organization that invests in creating brighter futures for children by taking the science behind reading and math comprehension and using it to fuel the tools our tutors use every day in classrooms around the country with kids. For nearly 20 years I have observed a variety of nonprofits running different programs nationally. What truly sets Reading Corps and Math Corps apart is the single-minded focus on making sure what we do works and actually helps move the needle for kids age three to grade three in reading and fourth through eighth grade in math.

When I made the transition from being a family law attorney to working in the nonprofit world I heard the phrase “evidence-based interventions” a lot. To be honest, I didn’t have the foggiest idea why that was so important until I started to look at the outcomes of different programs. I don’t have a Ph.D., but I can see the difference between children scoring in the proficient versus not proficient categories. It befuddled me that so many kids were finishing kindergarten and third grade “not ready” to advance to the next grade. Especially when we know that if a child fails to learn how to read by third grade, that child is more likely to dropout of high school and face enormous challenges in life. ALL of this starts in the first years of a child’s life. Without a solid foundation, children are not able to make the critical transition from learning to read to reading to learn.

Advances in child development and educational psychology have converged on three compelling conclusions. Here is what science tells us:

  1. Early experiences are built into our bodies. Significant adversity can produce physiological disruptions or biological “memories” that undermine the development of the body’s stress response systems and affect the developing brain, cardiovascular system, immune system and metabolic regulatory controls. These physiological disruptions can persist far into adulthood.
  2. Nevertheless, the power of high-quality relationships and learning experiences can demonstrably improve children’s outcomes.
  3. In short – what happens during, and after, a child’s early experiences matters A LOT.

Here is what common sense tells us:

  1. Caring adults can provide young children with positive relationships, rich learning opportunities and safe environments.
  2. When those caring adults sign up for an AmeriCorps experience in Reading Corps and Math Corps, they are committed to helping children acquire two of the most fundamental learning — and life — skills that people need for success.
  3. The combination of caring adults who help children have high-quality learning experiences shouldimprove student outcomes.

It does! The evidence behind Reading and Math Corps proves it. Investments in evidence-based programs that demonstrate growth and strong outcomes for children are the closest thing to a golden ticket we can give our children.

Want great stories like this delivered to your inbox?

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter for Alumni and Friends.

administratorWhy I Know Early Literacy Matters
read more

From High School to AmeriCorps: A Recent Grad’s Decision to Join Reading Corps

Republished with permission from ServeMinnesota

When Yailyn Moran graduated from high school last spring, she knew that college was in her future. She just wasn’t sure what she wanted to study or where she wanted to go.

So, she decided to take some time to figure it out while serving a good cause — young students in her hometown.

Yailyn, 19, signed up to serve in AmeriCorps as a Reading Corps tutor in Northfield, Minnesota, where she had recently graduated from Northfield High School.

Yailyn Moran, Reading Corps Tutor

“I chose to go into AmeriCorps because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for college yet ,” she said. “I’ve always loved people. I love kids. I have four siblings, so it’s always been easy for me to relate to kids, which made being an AmeriCorps member for Reading Corps a good choice.”

Inspiration to Major in Education

Yailyn said she had been wavering between a career in the medical field or education, and her placement at Sibley Elementary School has swayed her toward becoming a teacher. She said she has been especially inspired by the teachers at the school who talk to her about why they are passionate about their careers in education. Learning about their experiences and listening to their perspectives has been very helpful as she considers her college major, she said.

But the students are her greatest inspiration, Yailyn said. She tutors 15 children from Kindergarten through third grade every day, and she said she especially  enjoys her interactions with the Kindergartners.

“They absorb everything,” she said. “Seeing the progress they make in such a little amount of time is just amazing. Helping them achieve the goals they have to get to is fun and so rewarding – even though they might not always think it’s fun.”

She said that becoming a Reading Corps tutor just out of high school was nerve-wracking at first. However, after going through training and meeting the Sibley teachers, she felt more comfortable with her service. Plus, she said her time with the students is carefully planned and  scripted so that she can optimize the 20 minutes she spends with each of them. “Of course, the kids think 20 minutes is like, forever,” Yailyn said with a laugh.

The kids typically seem happy to see her when she comes to their classroom to pick them up for Reading Corps, which takes place in another room. “They are almost always like, ‘Yes! I get to go with Miss Yailyn!’”

‘It’s Really Going to Pay Off’

In addition to serving full-time in Reading Corps, Yailyn is also enrolled full-time in an online courses at Riverland Community College through the Northfield Community College Collaborative. As an Education Fellow in a new program started by Northfield Promise, her community college tuition and other expenses are paid by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. When she finishes two years of service and school, she said she plans to transfer to a four-year university and will use her AmeriCorps education credit to help cover those costs.

She said her service truly complements her coursework and future direction as an education major. However, she noted that not all Reading Corps members need to have an interest in a career in education. Really, she said, Reading Corps service just requires the right mindset.

“You really have to have patience, go in with an open mind,”
she said. “Not all the sites are the same or have the same resources. You have to be flexible and ready to put in the hours, but you also should realize that it’s really going to pay off in the end.”

Want more great stories of service delivered to your inbox? Sign up to receive the ServeMinnesota newsletter!

Want great stories like this delivered to your inbox?

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter for Alumni and Friends.

Darcie MooreFrom High School to AmeriCorps: A Recent Grad’s Decision to Join Reading Corps
read more

National Service Recognition Day: Celebrate Your Service!

 

Tuesday, April 2nd, is National Service Recognition Day. On this day, local leaders take to social media, organize special events and issue official proclamations celebrating and recognizing the incredible impact AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps members have on their community and the nation.

As AmeriCorps members, you tackle one of our country’s toughest challenges educating the leaders of tomorrow! As a show of appreciation for your service, local Minnesota leaders have planned special recognition events to celebrate your dedication to get things done for struggling students. All AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members and alum who served in the following cities are invited to attend.

 

Minneapolis

April 2nd: 1 – 3 p.m. – City Hall Rotunda, 350 S. Fifth Street

Mayor Jacob Frey and local leadership will be hosting a program to give thanks to those members and alum who made a lasting impact on the city of Minneapolis. Refreshments will be provided.

To RSVP, visit the event registration page.

 

St. Paul

April 2nd: 3 – 4:30 p.m. – Blackstack Brewing, 755 Prior Avenue North

Record your experience via Story Mobile and join Mayor Melvin Carter for special remarks during this happy hour event for members and alum who gave their time to serve the schools of St. Paul. Refreshments will be provided.

To learn more, see the event flyer and RSVP on Facebook.

 

Duluth

April 7th: 1 – 2 p.m. – Mayor’s Reception Room, City Hall, 411 West First Street

Celebrate both National Service Recognition Day and National Volunteer Week (April 7 – 13) with Mayor Emily Larson. Mayor Larson will honor those amazing contributions by members and alum who made a difference for the city of Duluth.

To register, email Cheryl Skafte at cskafte@duluthmn.gov or call 218-730-4334.

 

Did you serve outside these cities and want to find National Service Recognition Day events in your area? Email us at recruitment@servetogrow.org and we’ll get you more information!

Want great stories like this delivered to your inbox?

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter for Alumni and Friends.

administratorNational Service Recognition Day: Celebrate Your Service!
read more

Reading Corps: Where I Learned How to Teach Reading

Guest Writer: Jon Gustafson, former Elementary Literacy Tutor at Highland Park Elementary in St. Paul, MN

It was 2015 and I was in the process of acquiring my K-6 elementary teaching license in Minnesota. I wanted to get experience in an elementary school as soon as possible, I just wasn’t sure how to get my foot in the door. That was until I heard about Minnesota Reading Corps.

I was assigned to Highland Park Elementary in St. Paul as a K-3 Reading Corps literacy specialist. Before the school year started, I attended the Reading Corps Institute—four days of intensive training in literacy interventions that would be my first introduction to evidence-based practices for teaching reading.

When I think back to that training, I marvel at how thousands of non-experts like myself were transformed into data-driven literacy practitioners in just one week, and that we were provided with research-based teaching skills that were not necessarily being taught in the graduate level coursework required to become a licensed teacher.

Throughout the school year I completed daily literacy interventions with 10-12 students and watched as my students experienced growth in the “Big 5” components to reading outlined by the National Reading Panel—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. I was given monthly expert coaching from a seasoned literacy expert (a retired teacher) and used data-driven decision making to adjust individual student interventions. By the end of the school year, I knew I was a part of something special—and that the experiences and knowledge I gained through the Minnesota Reading Corps were an important part of my teacher training.

Until stumbling across the now infamous September 2018 Hard Words, Why aren’t kids being taught to read published by APM Reports and reported by Emily Hanford, I did not realize that my experience was so widely shared. In the piece, Hanford notes that “in 2016, the National Council on Teacher Quality…reviewed the syllabi of teacher preparation programs across the country and found that only 39 percent of them appeared to be teaching the components of effective reading instruction.” I myself was not explicitly taught the “Big 5” literacy components, nor trained in interventions to help struggling students in those areas—but I was in Reading Corps.

All of this leads me to the conclusion that Minnesota Reading Corps was by far the most useful preparation for teaching reading that I experienced. I hope that as the discussion about teacher preparation progresses, we can acknowledge it is unacceptable that more than 60 percent of American fourth-graders are not proficient readers. Research-based answers on how to solve this problem exist, and thanks to Reading Corps there is an effective model to follow and build upon.

 

Jon Gustafson served with Reading Corps during the 2015-16 school year and currently works as a 5th grade teacher at Hennepin Middle School in Minneapolis.

Want great stories like this delivered to your inbox?

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter for Alumni and Friends.

administratorReading Corps: Where I Learned How to Teach Reading
read more

National Service and American Democracy: New College Course

Interested in diving deeper into how national service supports democracy and community development? Wondering how you will continue to make an impact after your service term ends? Our partners at ServiceYear have teamed up with Arizona State University to offer a new online course geared specifically toward service-minded people like you.

This 3-credit hour course will explore how civic engagement has shaped American Democracy throughout history and how it continues to impact democracy today. You’ll explore what makes American democracy distinct, how to focus your civic engagement in light of government structures, what roles service and social engagement play in civil society, and how identity gives us insight into the mobilization of groups. At the conclusion of the class, you will have an idea of how to apply what you care about to a specific pathway to make a difference.

This learning opportunity is available for free or for academic credit. There is no prerequisite to enroll, and the course is taught at a college freshman level. If you’re budgeting for the expense, you have 12 months after you complete the course to pay the tuition ($400). You can also choose to use your education award to cover the cost (just indicate your intent to do so when you sign up for the course).

The course runs from March 12 through May 7, so be sure to apply by March 9 to participate!

View the course syllabus and the course calendar to see if this is the right opportunity for you or check out the FAQ page to learn more.

 

Note: Current members who are interested in applying should reach out to their Program Manager to discuss how this course could best fit into their service term.

administratorNational Service and American Democracy: New College Course
read more