By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
The Minnesota Reading Corps, a branch of AmericCorps, has placed three women as trained literacy tutors in two Little Falls schools. Two are assisting students ages kindergarten to third grade who are targeted as not having reached grade-level reading skills. One works with preschool age children.
“We are teaching young children to read while they are learning to read and before they need to read to learn,” said Corps member Andrea Engelmeyer.
Engelmeyer, from St. Cloud, is working at Lincoln Elementary and Elly Tepley is working at Lindbergh Elementary. They are concentrating on students in kindergarten through third grade who have been identified as being below their grade’s target in reading. Engelmeyer and Tepley then step in and work with the students one on one.
“With the kindergarten students, we work with letter sounds. With first graders, we work with text and sounds and with second and third graders we concentrate on text,” said Tepley, who lives in Swanville.
The tutors see about 19 students a day, for 20 minutes each. There is a waiting list, so as soon as a child has reached grade-level reading, they graduate and another child enters the program.
“Sometimes we work on comprehension or fluency,” said Engelmeyer. “Maybe the child just needs someone to read with them to reach grade-level. For the first graders, we help them with blending sounds to make words. We focus on letter sounds.”
Ruthann Lojovich from Upsala works with preschool children at Lindbergh Elementary School. She tests her 3-year-old students in picture naming, rhyming and knowing the same sounds of words. For the 4- and 5-year-olds, she does the same, but adds letter naming and letter sounds to the mix.
All three said the experience has been very rewarding. This is Tepley’s second year with the program. She is a mother of three and likes that she gets out of the house.
Lojovich said she loves working with children. Her experiences in the classroom have shown her that she would like to become a paraprofessional, continuing to work with preschool children.
Engelmeyer is a recently-licensed teacher, but has not been able to find work. She said this experience may help her get hired.
“I recommend this program for anyone,” said Engelmeyer. “Helping the teachers in the classrooms and assisting children to learn to read is rewarding.”
The Minnesota Reading Corps is a statewide program launched in 2003. Its goal is to help every child become a successful reader by the end of third grade.
This is the fourth year that both Lindbergh and Lincoln elementary schools have been involved with the kindergarten – third grade program and the second year for preschool-age children.
Something new the three tutors implemented is a Saturday program they have called Flyer Reading Adventures. On Saturday, March 23, any child in kindergarten to third grade is invited to spend the day at Lindbergh Elementary and participate in activities, listen to stories, watch a movie and more.
For more information, contact Engelmeyer at [email protected].
For more information on the AmeriCorps Reading program in Minnesota, contact Anna Peters at (612) 206-3034 or [email protected].