Reading Corps

Supporting Students from a Distance

photo - woman red reading corps jacket

With so much uncertainty surrounding the school year, Reading and Math Corps tutors are needed more than ever to support our students. Kim Nelson, a reading tutor at Sawtooth Mountain Elementary in Grand Marais, is an example of one tutor working to change the lives of the students she works with. “Kim adds so much as a tutor,” says principal Megan Myers. “We’re so thankful to have her!” 

Before becoming a tutor in October 2019, Kim’s own life was changed by cancer and autoimmune disease diagnosis a few years prior. After multiple battles overcoming what doctors said was a 38% chance to live, Kim returned to the professional world and eventually found out about the opportunity to tutor in Grand Marais through a Facebook ad.  

Suzanne PagelSupporting Students from a Distance
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Stories of Service During COVID-19

Stories of Service During COVID-19

When Minnesota schools closed in response to the COVID-19 crisis, our members stepped up. Over the last few weeks, reading and math tutors have pivoted, shifting their service from tutoring in schools to supporting the community and students in new ways. We’ve collected some inspiring stories of service – take a look!

Suzanne PagelStories of Service During COVID-19
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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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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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5 Ways to Be a High-Performing Principal in Reading Corps and Math Corps

5 Ways to Be a High-Performing Principal in Reading Corps and Math Corps

As the new year approaches, it is time to start planning for the next school year. Yes, it seems early, but actually, the best principals begin planning for the next school year in January. I know how busy you principals are EVERY time of the year, and so here is an abbreviated list to get you started for 2020-2021 school year.

shayla@serveminnesota.org5 Ways to Be a High-Performing Principal in Reading Corps and Math Corps
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From AmeriCorps to State Office, Rep. Ami Wazlawik’s Career Exemplifies Service to Community

From AmeriCorps to State Office, Rep. Ami Wazlawik’s Career Exemplifies Service to Community

This story was published originally by ServeMinnesota.

Minnesota State Legislator Ami Wazlawik is probably similar to a lot of elected officials who say they have public service in their blood.

However, with three stints in AmeriCorps – serving in Minnesota Reading Corps, the Summer Reads program and AmeriCorps VISTA – before running for state office, Wazlawik has the record to prove it. She said her draw to service actually goes back to planting trees near the Mississippi River bank as a child with her family – one of many family volunteer efforts that made an impression on the White Bear Lake native.

Suzanne PagelFrom AmeriCorps to State Office, Rep. Ami Wazlawik’s Career Exemplifies Service to Community
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A Conversation with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar

A Conversation with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar

On December 3, Reading Corps was invited to participate in a panel hosted by Results for America at the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law in Concord, New Hampshire. The event, “A Conversation with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar on National Service and Strengthening Our Democracy” focused on how evidence-based approaches, public policy and national service intersect to amplify progress and social change.

Suzanne PagelA Conversation with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar
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PreK Math Pilot Shows Significant Results

PreK Math Pilot Shows Significant Results

Minnesota students’ declining math scores are a worry for so many reasons: The math courses that students take in high school are strongly related to students’ earnings around 10 years later, even after taking account of demographics, family and school characteristics, as well as the student’s highest educational degree attained, college major and occupation. And more complex courses are associated with a larger influence on wages and post-secondary enrollment.

shayla@serveminnesota.orgPreK Math Pilot Shows Significant Results
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