MINNEAPOLIS — “I get to be part of the miracle of reading,” said Kris Potter, a Minnesota Reading Corps tutor at Clara Barton Open School in Minneapolis.
It’s a role she’s used to, having retired from the profession of teaching. Not willing to step back entirely, Potter found a role at the school, working with children in the primary grades to bring them up to reading level by the end of the third grade.
“Right now across the state of Minnesota, about 1 in 5 students are not proficient readers at the end of third grade,” said Alison Jirik, program director for the Minnesota Math Corps. The math and reading corps comprise the largest AmeriCorps program in Minnesota.
Jirik says by the end of third grade, students need to be able to read fluently to keep up with their school work.
The goal for the Minnesota Math Corps is to make sure students are proficient in algebra by the end of the eighth grade. Jirik says 60-percent of students in Minnesota don’t meet that standard.
“So we’re working with those fourth through eighth grade students to make sure they have the skills they need to be successful later in life in an economy and a world where having skills in math is really important,” Jirik said.
That’s where the tutors come in. Jirik says a year long commitment is what both the reading and math corps are looking for.
“We have some that are right out of college and are really looking for experience in a work force. We have individuals who are career changers and are really looking to explore education,” said Jirik.
Another group often interested in tutoring is retirees looking to give back.
And give back they do.
Kindergarten teacher Kate Glasenapp says Kris Potter’s work at Clara Barton literally changed the lives of some of her students who were falling behind.
“They felt like they had caught up, and you could see it in the way they talked and the way they walked, and the way they were ready to learn how to read,” said Glasenapp.
Until then, Glasenapp cast a skeptical eye on the Reading Corps program. She was concerned tutors wouldn’t offer real help, or be consistent. Potter’s work allayed Glasenapp’s concerns.
\Now, with larger class sizes, Minnesota Reading Corps isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.
“I don’t have enough time to do individual daily practice with every child that I would like, and so Reading Corps just lifts those children up,” said Glasenapp.
Jirik says positions for math and reading tutors are available throughout the state, both full and part time.
Applicants are screened and given training, and may be eligible for a bi-weekly living allowance.