Anoka-Hennepin seeks reading, math tutors

Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.

There are 54 openings for Reading Corps and Math Corps tutors in the Anoka-Hennepin School District for the 2017-2018 school year.

Reading Corps tutor Kacie Thompson works with kindergartner Lauren Guerra on literacy skills at Andover Elementary School May 23. The Anoka-Hennepin School District is seeking tutors for the 2017-2018 school year. Photo by Olivia Alveshere
Reading Corps tutor Kacie Thompson works with kindergartner Lauren Guerra on literacy skills at Andover Elementary School May 23. The Anoka-Hennepin School District is seeking tutors for the 2017-2018 school year. Photo by Olivia Alveshere

Reading Corps and Math Corps, both AmeriCorps programs that began in Minnesota and spread nationally, are looking to recruit a total of 2,000 tutors to work in schools throughout Minnesota.

Reading Corps tutors practice literacy skills with kindergarten through third-grade students, while Math Corps tutors aid fourth- through eighth-grade students in pairs.

“We know that up until grade three, kiddos are learning how to read, and after grade three, they need to be able to read to learn,” said Julia Quanrud, senior program manager for Reading Corps and Math Corps. “Grade three is a really important time in a student’s life, and we want to do everything we can to make sure they have the tools they need to succeed once they’re beyond Reading Corps’ reach.”

Helping students master algebra skills is the primary focus of Math Corps because “we know that unlocking math for our students … really unlocks everything else,” Quanrud said. “We can tie it to their likelihood of going to college. … The idea, similar to Reading Corps, is you start early, and you meet kids where they’re at, give them the tools to succeed.”

Kacie Thompson, of Andover, works as a full-time tutor at Andover Elementary School, and she plans to return for a second year of service next school year as she begins to pursue a master of arts in education with an emphasis in early learning.

Currently, she implements research-based interventions with 15 students, working with each of them for 20 minutes a day.

They are better readers today than when she started with them, Thompson said. And their self-esteem has soared, too.

“It is far more than just about the literacy,” she said. “Some of these kids, it’s like they kind of break their shell and flourish and become this different person in a way that was always kind of in there.”

In addition, Thompson volunteers with the Adventures Plus program and teaches staff members yoga after school.

Ann Tellander, of Coon Rapids, serves as a Reading Corps tutor at Franklin Elementary School in Anoka.

She left her role as a business manager at The Way of the Shepherd Catholic Montessori School in Blaine last summer and took up work at Franklin.

“I just decided that I was looking for a change,” Tellander said. “My intention was one year of service to give back to the community that I feel like I’ve been so greatly blessed by.”

Both Tellander and Thompson said they have a heart for children and noted that a passion for working with kids is all you really need to be a successful tutor through AmeriCorps.

Individuals who are citizens or permanent residents in the United States who have earned a high school diploma or GED are invited to apply for positions at www.readingandmath.net.

Full-time tutors receive a living allowance of $574 biweekly, access to health insurance, child care assistance and an education award of $5,815 to help pay off student loans or tuition. If tutors are 55 or older, they can transfer the education award to a child or grandchild.

“Being at this school with Reading Corps allowed me to go back to school and finish my bachelor’s, and now I’m also inspired to pursue a degree in teaching,” Thompson said.

Tutors hired ahead of the 2017-2018 school year will be trained in August and work in a particular school through June. They are supported throughout their year of service by a coach at the building level and through AmeriCorps.

“I would just really encourage people to consider this opportunity,” Tellander said. “The support that I’ve received and friendships that I’ve developed as an outcome of my year of service has just been phenomenal.”

For more information about Reading Corps and Math Corps, visit www.readingandmath.net.

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