Last Wednesday, the United South Central Elementary School had a very special guest.
Rep. Peggy Bennett (R-Albert Lea) visited USC Elementary School in Wells to see first-hand how Minnesota Reading Corps is helping children in Faribault County become successful readers.
Across the state of Minnesota, there are more than 150,000 students who are not on track to become successful readers by the end of third grade, and some of those students are from Faribault County.
Minnesota Reading Corps helps to improve children's ability to read and USC Elementary is one of the many Minnesota schools which uses this learning initiative of ServeMinnesota to help combat the staggering statistics of children in Minnesota from kindergarten to third grade who are not on track for reading.
As an elementary school teacher, Rep. Bennett says that no skill is more important to success for the future of a child than reading. That is why she is the chief author of a bill slated to increase the allocation for Reading Corps to help more students throughout the state become proficient readers.
According to Lisa Winkler, of ServeMinnesota, increased funding will allow Reading Corps to bring 166 more tutors on board to help 5,000 more students throughout the state, plus expand literacy-rich early learning environments in licensed family child care, HeadStart, and Pre-K classrooms all across Minnesota.
Rep. Bennett was able to sit down with some of USC's educators, as well as educators from Lake Crystal, who have utilized a Pre-K Reading Corps program in order to see how effective the Reading Corps program has been.
She was able to witness, first-hand, how the established tutoring of the Minnesota Reading Corps helps young students to get on track for reading, and stay that way.
"I think this is a fantastic program, and it is so good to hear things are going well in our local schools," said Rep. Bennett.
She was able to talk to two tutors who work at USC that are specifically trained through Reading Corps.
Amber Huber and Rachel Rauenhorst are trained AmeriCorps members who provide individualized tutoring and interventions for students who are at risk of not reading at their grade level. Though it sounds pretty rigorous, both Huber and Rauenhorst say they thoroughly enjoy what they do.
"Because of my work as a tutor, I know now that I want to be in the classroom as a teacher. It has showed me how rewarding it is to invest time into a student's life," said Rauenhorst.
Huber, who has a son in the USC?school, said she missed being able to teach her son to read, and thus was able to re-live those special moments of learning to read with other students at USC.
"Representatives like Rep. Bennett are valuable in communities like Wells because she is ensuring today's children are on track for reading success and will make a positive impact with her bill writing on tomorrow's Faribault County workforce and the engaged citizens of the future," said Winkler.
Katie Mullaly - Register Staff Writer (firstname.lastname@example.org), Faribault County Register