Brianna Mielke has always been drawn to mission-driven work. Whether working to support domestic violence and sexual assault survivors or those experiencing a mental health crisis, she loved making a difference. After ten years in social services, it was her son who inspired her to become a tutor.
As a first-grader, Brianna’s son received Reading Corps services. During that one school year, she witnessed his reading abilities improve and his confidence soar. “I knew I wanted to try it out,” Brianna shared. “I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life the way that my son’s tutor did for him.”
During Brianna’s first year of service at Zimmerman Elementary, she encountered challenging days and rewarding ones, too. She recalls that one student in particular was determined to avoid Reading Corps. Every day there was a new excuse for why he didn’t need to participate. It was a challenge to engage him, but in the end, he was the first of Brianna’s students to graduate from the program.
“He burst into tears the day I told him he met his reading goals and we wouldn’t be working together anymore,” Brianna remembers. “At that moment it hit me how much one-on-one time can mean to a student.”
Now in her third year of service at Zimmerman Elementary, it is clear Brianna is still making an impact. When she goes to pick up kids from class for their reading lesson, others will even ask if they can go next. “It’s important to build their confidence and spend that one-on-one time with the students,” she says. “It is so fun to see them make progress with their fluency – but it’s even more special to watch their confidence grow.”
Brianna is already planning on serving again next year and she thinks others should too. “Just try it out – you will not regret it,” she insists. “After just one month of service, I knew that I wasn’t going anywhere. You get so much more from it than you give.”