In The Community

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!

Kelsey CummingsNational Service Recognition Day: Celebrate Your Service!
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Why We’re Participating in MLK Day of Service

 

 

MLK Day of Service, a federal holiday created to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of service, not only brings whole communities together, but also gives AmeriCorps members and alumni a unique opportunity to come together in the name of helping others.

For Dr. King, giving back meant strengthening the bonds of community and working toward something greater than ourselves. In honor of Dr. King’s vision, we asked some of the AmeriCorps and PeaceCorps alumni who now work to support Reading Corps and Math Corps what MLK Day of Service means to them. Their answers were inspiring:

 

Ryan Kjesbo-Johnson
“Serving others is a chance to open our hearts to the struggles of those around us. Some of the most transforming moments of my life have happened while serving others—whether it was teaching someone how to apply for
a job each day in AmeriCorps, to filling bags of food at feed my starving children with my kids, to teaching reproductive health skills in Uganda to young men or helping push strangers’ cars out of the snow. Serving others
opens our hearts, and creates a tapestry of understanding and connection that does not happen if we merely pass by each other. This tapestry of understanding and connection defines the beloved community that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about and lived out.

Service on this day honors a man, and a movement, that was driven on the backs of service to others. From driving neighbors to work during the Montgomery bus boycott, to helping comfort bodies broken by the batons on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, to church members hosting visitors of the movement in their homes, the Civil Rights movement was defined by sacrifice and service to others. On this day take time to honor the legacy of Dr. King by serving your neighbors, and let that spark of service create a wildfire of service throughout the year.”

 
 

Alison Zellmer
“When I reflect on the MLK Day of Service and why it is so important, this quote from Martin Luther King Jr. always comes to mind, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.’ I think one of the greatest ways you can share love to your community, your school, your neighbors, to anyone is through service. We honor Martin Luther King Jr. on this day by doing just that.”

Jenny Rangel
“I remember listening to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech when I was younger. His words and actions left a huge impression on me and opened my eyes up to the inequality in the world. He challenged the status quo and believed that everyone can be great and make an impact no matter how small. MLK Day of Service is a time to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy and to give back to the community. I am participating to honor Dr. King’s legacy and do my part to make this world a better place.”

Megan Peterson
“I consider myself lucky to have grown up in a family that valued service to one’s community, and it has led me to always try to give back. I have had the opportunity to serve at soup kitchens, help build playgrounds, volunteer at the local food shelf and lead excited parents through Toys for Tots gift selection. Perhaps most impactful for me, I have served as a Reading Corps tutor helping to improve confidence and skills in children. The hugs, smiles and genuine happiness to see me every day that I experienced from these students will live with me forever. MLK Day of Service is an opportunity for me to be intentional about giving back and serving my community in new ways. I encourage you to join me in helping to make the world a better place this MLK Day.”

 

Andrew Mueller
“A day of service to me means showing as a community that we both celebrate the legacy of Dr. King and we recognize that there is a lot of work left to do to create a just and equitable society for everyone. I participate in service because ground level work is as important as systems change work and directly serving the community expands my perspective and often the best relationships are formed when serving others.”

 

Chris Erickson
“For me, MLK Day of Service is a chance to do something for others in a way that’s outside my day-to-day tutoring role. It’s a chance to find a service program, organization or opportunity that speaks to my passions, and give back to others. This was also a great way for me to connect with other AmeriCorps members, and people from the community at large who had similar interests and personal service passions. Now, years later I’m so grateful for my experiences in AmeriCorps as a Reading Corps member, and still find joy from taking part in meaningful service projects on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”

 

 

If you’re interested in joining us for an MLK Day of Service project, check out our last blog post to view the full list of opportunities and learn more about getting involved.





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In Honor of Helping Others: MLK Day of Service

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.” No matter who you are or where you’re from, Dr. King believed that everyone had the ability to make a difference by helping others. In honor of his legacy and passion for serving others, MLK Day of Service is intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems and move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”

As AmeriCorps members and alumni, you’ve committed your time to service. We hope you’ll join other Reading Corps and Math Corps members, alumni and staff Monday, January 21, 2019 for this truly special day of service in order to better our communities and the lives of those around us.

Below is a list of service activities Minnesota Math Corps and Minnesota Reading Corps will be participating in. If you’re interested in giving back during MLK Day of Service, please reach out to amy.kasch-vanek@servetogrow.org for more information.

Opportunities to serve:

8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast w/ reflection and discussion – SCSU – St. Cloud

8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. — Volunteer at the MLK march – Rochester Mayo Civic Center – Rochester

8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast w/ reflection and discussion – LSS Centrum – Minneapolis

8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast w/ reflection and discussion – Brooklyn Park Community Center – Brooklyn Park

8:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. — Volunteer at the MLK march – Washington Rec Center – Duluth

10:00 a.m. – noon — Painting inspirational MLK quotes – Miltona Community Center – Miltona

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. — Packaging food with Second Harvest Heartland – Brooklyn Park

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. — Holiday party for those in Memory Care – Rakhma Homes – Minneapolis

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. — Painting inspirational MLK quotes – Miltona Community Center – Miltona

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. — Birdfeeder Workshop – Home Depot – St. Cloud

*Limited registration

1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. — Volunteer opportunities at Minnesota State University, Mankato – Mankato

*Includes Dr. Suess Birthday/Read Across America, letters to the troops, cards for children at Children’s hospital

 

Not located near one of these activities or would like another way to participate? Tutors can also use MLK Day of Service as a day of reflection on Dr. King’s legacy and their own service experiences by completing activities in the web-based supplemental training bank.

Or find even more events happening around Minnesota here or through the InterCorps Council of Minnesota here.*

 

*Note: Current tutors – Be sure to check in with your Program Manager for hours guidance and to fill out an SOR before participating in outside service opportunities.

administratorIn Honor of Helping Others: MLK Day of Service
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Minneapolis School Breaks “High Priority” Barrier: Students Make Great Gains with Reading Corps Pilot Program

 

Current 2018-19 Scholar Coaches and staff

 

Exceptional things are happening at Nellie Stone Johnson Community School (NSJ) in North Minneapolis. Determined to help their learners succeed, NSJ has developed a multi-faceted approach to raising student achievement, with great success. Once deemed a “High Priority” school, a category which identifies the lowest-performing schools in the state, NSJ has now been removed from that list!

With the extraordinary commitment of their community partners and stakeholders (including Minnesota Reading Corps) NSJ has made incredible gains, including doubling 3rd grade reading proficiency in the span of three years. It was just a few short years ago that we began speaking with NSJ about developing a new kind of model to help better meet the needs of their students: the Total Learning Classroom (TLC) program. Now in its 4th year, the TLC program has grown to reach eight schools in Minneapolis, St. Paul and St. Cloud.

The TLC program is unique in that our tutors—called Scholar Coaches—are embedded in K-3 classrooms and partner closely with the teacher to support classroom instruction and deliver 1:1 and small group reading interventions to students. “The 1:1 connection between the Scholar Coach and the classroom teacher enables daily conversations to happen about how students are doing,” NSJ principal Amy Luehmann said. “It makes a big difference.”

This partnership also gives the Scholar Coach the opportunity to integrate the teacher’s lessons into their tutoring sessions, which gives students an added learning boost. “The TLC model really was beneficial in that I was able to see what was happening in the classroom and connect that to the tutoring interventions,” Colleen Denice-Rossiter, a third-year Scholar Coach at NSJ, said. “I benefited so much from watching [the students’] progress and also just watching their whole attitude change.”

So far this year, over 400 students have been served by Scholar Coaches and 80% of students with six or more weeks of tutoring are achieving at or above the rate necessary to reach grade level targets by the spring. With the continued success of students at NSJ, we hope to partner with more Minnesota schools so that students across the state can achieve such incredible results!

The TLC program will be recruiting Scholar Coaches for the 2019-20 school year starting in January. To learn more about the program or how you can get involved, contact Andrew Mueller.

administratorMinneapolis School Breaks “High Priority” Barrier: Students Make Great Gains with Reading Corps Pilot Program
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Reading Corps Alum to be Honored with January Spirit of Service Award

Spirit of Service Award honoree Kristi Jo Sanders

​“It’s just simple little things you can do to help make tiny little things better for your community.”

Kristi Jo Sanders began her Reading Corps journey during the 2009-10 school year at Lincoln K-8 Choice School in Rochester. After receiving her K-12 reading license and teaching preschool for a few years, Kristi Jo had her “aha moment” when she realized all her students weren’t experiencing that same connection with books at home and in school. As she was looking to continue teaching, she found that becoming a tutor not only opened up new professional opportunities for her, but also gave her a different perspective she could use in her future career. “As a classroom teacher you make a big impact, but as a tutor…the one-on-one chance you have to work with kids allowed me to develop a relationship with kids and get to know them as readers on a different level,” Kristi Jo said.

After her service, Kristi Jo was hired on as a Reading Specialist at Jefferson Elementary School, where she continues serving students as the Internal Coach. A major proponent of community involvement, Kristi Jo also works to collect school supplies for the Running Start program, heads up the school’s backpack program, and helped build a school kitchen for children in Tanzania, Africa—a service trip she hopes to replicate soon. Always working to educate parents and families on the importance of reading at home, Kristi Jo hopes to encourage others to give back, even in small ways: “It’s your chance to make a difference and it’s a difference that’s going to follow a kid through the rest of their life.”

For your continued impact in the classroom and beyond, it’s our privilege to honor you with the Spirit of Service Award. Thank you, Kristi Jo! If you’re interested in making a difference in your community, apply to become a Reading Corps tutor at www.readingandmath.net. Be sure to apply by December 14th to start in January!

 

About the Spirit of Service Awards

Launched in 2018 to celebrate alumni and commemorate the 15th anniversary of Reading Corps and 10th anniversary of Math Corps, The Spirit of Service Awards honor individuals who continue to embody the AmeriCorps pledge as alumni. Honorees were celebrated as part of Institute in August, October and January.

Recipients during the 2018-19 program year include: Sarah Warren, Mary Borrell and Lindsay Taute, James Magee and Kristi Jo Sanders.

 

 
 

 

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Reading Corps Alum Receives October Spirit of Service Award

Spirit of Service Award honoree James Magee

“To work one on one with kids who just needed that extra push was really important to me.”

What better way to celebrate our anniversary (15 years of Reading Corps, 10 years of Math Corps) than recognizing the amazing achievements of our alumni? The Spirit of Service Award is presented to alumni in recognition of their efforts to live the AmeriCorps pledge and continue to focus on community after completing their service.

The first Spirit of Service Awards were presented at August Institute to alums Sarah Warren, Mary Borrell and Lindsay Taute. In honor of October Institute, we were proud to recognize Reading Corps alumni James Magee.

After completing his degree in classical music performance, James was drawn to the idea of becoming a teacher. While working as a paraprofessional at Royal Oaks Elementary school in Woodbury, he learned about Reading Corps and thought it might be a great pathway to becoming a teacher. James served as a Reading Corps tutor in 2009-10 and went on to earn his teaching license and complete an MA in education. After teaching kindergarten for six years, he now works as an instructional coach for South Washington County Schools.

“[Reading Corps] wasn’t a program that was looking out for itself; the kids were the primary goal the entire time,” James said. “That level of care and concern for each student was something I was able to take with me and adjust my instructional strategies moving forward.”

James cites his AmeriCorps experience as a driving force behind his desire to do meaningful work in his community and beyond. He has participated in global service by working to construct buildings and gather curriculum materials for primary students in Rwanda, and frequently volunteers locally with his children to support education. A passionate advocate for service, James says, “If you’re not willing to invest in education, you’re not willing to invest in your community’s success.”

Congratulations, James! We thank you for your service to Reading Corps and ongoing leadership in both the classroom and the community. We continue to be amazed by the incredible work our alumni do after service, and we look forward to honoring even more alumni during January Institute!


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Reading Corps Alum Awarded Duluth’s 20 Under 40

Recently, Reading Corps alum Jodi Broadwell was recognized as one of Duluth’s 20 Under 40, an annual award honoring local leaders for their community impact and involvement.

Jodi first discovered Reading Corps when she spotted a flyer while dropping her son off at school. A single parent who not only was juggling multiple jobs and a preschool student, but also going to school herself, Jodi thought serving during the same hours her son was in school was just the solution she needed.

And it was while serving as the first preschool literacy tutor at Laura MacArthur Elementary’s Head Start program that Jodi found her passion for helping those in need. “I had never served on a committee before Reading Corps, and now I organize events all the time,” Jodi said. “that introduction into civic engagement is important.”

After Reading Corps, Jodi was inspired to get involved even more, serving on the board of directors for Community Action Duluth, the League of Women’s Voters-Duluth, Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, Inc, and Ecolibrium3. She has also been a caretaker for a Big Red Bookshelf for five years, served on the Duluth-Superior Pride Committee, and is a city commissioner for the Duluth Public Arts Commission.

“When you’re doing work in the community and making a difference, it makes for more meaningful life experiences,” Jodi said, “and sometimes it might benefit the person doing the volunteering more than the person on the receiving end.”

Serving as a Reading Corps tutor at a Head Start had a major impact on Jodi’s life, spawning a lifelong love for ensuring children and families living in impoverished conditions have the resources they need to succeed. Currently, she runs Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative, a small nonprofit that strengthens the community by connecting families who care about children. Though her projects might include parent support groups, free family activities or a new day care center, Jodi has never forgotten the importance of reading. “Everything we do [with the kids] has some sort of early literacy component, whether it’s the whiteboards, signing in each day, or reading aloud…and we’re always encouraging parents to have those conversations with their children.”

With community service being such an important part of her life, what advice would Jodi give to those looking for a way to make a change? Get involved! “I really encourage people to embrace a national AmeriCorps service because it’s a wonderful experience—and looks great on a resume too!”

An alphabet mural Jodi and her students made during her 2nd year at Laura MacArthur Elementary, which has been hanging at UMD Children’s Place for ten years!

 

 
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Reading Corps, Math Corps Alum Receive First Spirit of Service Awards

Spirit of Service award honorees Mary Borrell (left) and Sarah Warren (right) receive their awards at August Institute. (Not pictured is honoree Lindsay Taute.)

At Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps, we’re constantly amazed by the dedication and passion demonstrated by each and every one of our tutors. Community-driven people from all across Minnesota volunteer a year (or more!) of their lives to inspire and encourage students to build the skills and confidence for a brighter future. We’re so incredibly grateful!

This August, as we celebrated Reading Corps’ 15th year and Math Corps’ 10th year, we also recognized some of the amazing alumni who have taken this dedication to service and extended it beyond our programs and into their day-to-day lives. The first ever Alumni Spirit of Service Awards were presented to three such alum during Institute on August 14th.

Both Reading Corps and Math Corps alumni who had completed their service during the 17-18 school year or earlier were eligible, with winners chosen based on continued service after Reading Corps and Math Corps and their dedication to making a difference. Whether it was continued involvement in a school, volunteering to help communities across the globe, or writing children’s books to foster a love for reading, these alumni have made service an essential part of their lives and work. In addition to the award certificate, winners also received new alumni jackets.

We know that the desire to give back doesn’t end after your AmeriCorps service, and we hope that these stories will help inspire you to continue to get involved in your community and make a difference for those in need. We are excited to launch this tradition and look forward to celebrating more honorees as part of October and January Institutes!

Mary Borrell

“I think it’s really powerful to have those years or whatever time period just to give back.”

Mary served for two years as a Reading Corps tutor at Vista View Elementary in Burnsville. During her service she pursued a master’s degree in Autism Spectrum Disorders at St. Thomas University. She was subsequently hired on at Vista View Elementary where she now works with children on the autism spectrum. In addition to supporting incoming tutors to Vista View, Mary is also involved with Girls on the Run and  serves on the Cultural Proficiency Team for ISD 191.



Sarah Warren

“It’s service to others but also an incredible opportunity to grow as a professional.”

An experienced early childhood educator, Sarah served for two years as a PreK tutor and two years as a Family Child Care tutor. After completing her fourth term of service in 2016, Sarah has continued to be a champion for literacy in Minneapolis. She leads teacher trainings, workshops for teens and local story hours for families. Her book Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers has been recognized by The Amelia Bloomer Book List and has also been featured on amightygirl.com.

 

 

Lindsay Taute

“There is no sense in doing what we’re doing unless it impacts a person’s life.”

Lindsay served as a Math Corps tutor in 2009 at North Junior High School in St. Cloud. Her service with Math Corps was a gap year before beginning medical school at the University of Minnesota. She has participated in a month-long medical mission to Haiti, is credited on multiple case reports and studies, and recently presented at the American Academy of Pathologist’s Assistants annual meeting in Oregon. She continues to invest in her community and now practices medicine in New Mexico.



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A Jump Start for Learning – Reading Corps in Family Child Care

 

Today, one in every three K-3 students in Minnesota is struggling to read. That’s 100,000 kids—a staggering number. Even more staggering is that 80% of brain growth occurs before age three, and during the first few years of a child’s life more than 1 million neural connections are formed every second. So when traditional school learning doesn’t begin until age five or six, how might we reach children during these early stages of development to jump-start learning and help close the opportunity gap? Our solution: Reading Corps in Family Child Care.

“We put a stake in the ground 10 years ago that we wanted Reading Corps to reach every child in Minnesota that needed it,” explains Audrey Suker, CEO at ServeMinnesota. “You can imagine that if every child care provider in communities had access to this, the whole community would start to feel different.”

How It Works

Tutors travel between three Family Child Care sites a week, visiting two each morning, to provide around 90 minutes of early literacy interventions. Working with children anywhere from infancy to age five, tutors conduct whole group, small group, and one-on-one sessions based on an adapted PreK model. Tutors also partner with the provider to lead instruction, and they work closely together to support strong student outcomes. Providers also participate in rigorous professional development including training and coaching to help them succeed.

Why Serve?

Tutors have the opportunity to serve outside the classroom in their communities and build valuable relationships with providers and families. They also are able to work with mixed ages and potentially whole sibling groups who wouldn’t be able to learn together in a traditional school environment. Given Family Child Care tutors travel to multiple locations and take on additional leadership and organizational tasks, tutors serve part time but receive an increased living allowance.

“If you are interested in increasing your leadership and teaching skills, as well as having a strong impact on student outcomes, this innovative pilot is a great choice for your service year,” says Becky Scott-Rudnick, Director of Family Child Care.

What’s Next?

In order to meet the needs of children across the state, Reading Corps in Family Child Care is now expanding to Bloomington for the first time for the 2018-19 school year. A total of three members are needed in Bloomington, as well as 13 in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and six in St. Cloud.

If you’re interested in taking your service outside the school or would like more information, please contact program manager Nou Thao.

Want to learn more? Check out this Pioneer Press feature to read more about one tutor’s experience serving with Reading Corps in Family Child Care and how she makes a difference for children in her community.

 
 
 
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