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Reading Corps seeks to improve child literacy

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With more than 1,000 tutors spread throughout the state, the Minnesota Reading Corps works to help children in kindergarten through third grade improve their reading skills through one-on-one literacy instruction.

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“The target for Reading Corps is to work with kids who are close to reading at grade level,” said Kari Yates, principal of Heart of the Lakes Elementary School, one of roughly 500 preschools, elementary schools, and Head Start centers to feature the program.

Depending on their time commitment, tutors typically work with eight to 17 students per day to improve each child’s reading speed and fluency. Each session lasts 20 minutes and is followed by a short evaluative test to track student progress.

“What’s cool is within 20 minutes I can see progress, “said Kjersten Hunt, who, along with Kent Christopherson and Daidre Klinnert, comprises Heart of the Lakes’ Reading Corps staff. Hunt and Christopherson are both tutors, while Klinnert is a Site Coach who supervises the program and offers guidance as necessary.

“Reading Corps is an amazing complement to reading instruction in our school,” said Yates. “The kids can really benefit.”

The school is responsible for providing a space for the program, access to a computer, mentoring, and supervision, Yates explained. All other expenses are covered.

Launched in 2003, the Reading Corps is an Americorps program and has grown to become the organization’s largest. Most tutors are either recent college graduates or retirees. They hold their positions for 11 months before moving on and allowing a new batch of tutors to replace them the following year.

Christopherson joined the Reading Corps after teaching for 34 years.

“It’s a way to give back to the community” he explained.

“We’ve been lucky to have great members. Kent and Kjersten have so much to offer,” Yates said. “The most difficult and important part is recruitment. For the right person, it’s a great opportunity.”

The school plans to utilize Reading Corps tutors again next school year.

For more information, visit www.minnesotareadingcorps.org or contact Anna Peters at 866- 859-2825.

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jbowe
Joe Bowen, a 2009 graduate of St. John's University, is the newest member of the Perham Focus team. He enjoys writing, rugby, and hamburgers.
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