This spring, the HWS chapter of America Reads will enter its 28th year. The program, which provides elementary-school students in the local Geneva and Waterloo communities with college-tutors in literacy skills and homework help, will hire its 2,500th tutor in January.
Coordinated by the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL), America Reads provides educational engagement and academic support to many students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, and gives tutors meaningful experiences in literacy development and education, as well as public policy.
Under the guidance of Professor of Education Charlie Temple, the America Reads program began at HWS in 1988 as the Student Literacy Corps. Since then tutors from HWS have traveled to reading periods and after-school programs in local elementary schools, working with students to improve their reading. Since the program began at HWS, CCESL estimates more than 30,000 books have been read with students.
“Reading is the foundation for a good education, and for a life full of opportunities,” says Associate Director of CCESL Jeremy Wattles. “Our students have the opportunity to form a relationship with children who are struggling with reading and to help them raise their proficiency.”
Elementary-school students who participate in America Reads often improve their reading by two or three levels during the course of a semester. Lauren Workman ’19, who has tutored at North Street Elementary School in Geneva for two semesters, says seeing students develop stronger reading skills in just a couple months of working together is rewarding.
“I see in the students that I have worked with their ability to feel confident in their reading. On the first day the students are always a little timid, but by the end of the semester, they usually feel comfortable reading with inflection, feeling and energy,” Workman says.
Students may apply to become tutors on HWS Collegiate Link on the America Reads organizational page. Tutors who qualify for Federal Work Study earn $9.70 an hour. The program also accepts volunteer and service-learning applications. Site times vary from early morning into the late afternoon.