Senior Nathan Campbell calls America Reads “a great program for anyone who enjoys working with kids.” The national program sponsors college students to assist elementary children in the community who are struggling with literacy.
Campbell is one of six students who were named Tutor of the Month during the fall semester. Other students honored are seniors Amanda Slack, Jesse Milligan, Jenny MacQuarrie, and first-years Michael Carr and Jean Baptiste. The Tutor of the Month program was established to recognize those students who have gone above and beyond throughout the semester.
“The fulfillment of seeing your student’s progress at the end of the year is indescribable, but each day brings a new challenge and opportunity for fun for those willing to invest the time,” says Campbell. “The skills that tutors help to promote are lifelong and a great amount of pride can be taken in providing children with knowledge that will not only make them better students, but also allow them to pursue their dreams.”
The America Reads program at HWS started in 1996, evolving from an earlier all-volunteer Student Literacy Corps, and is one of the largest employers of students on campus. Tutors meet with students two or three times a week at Main Street Elementary School in Waterloo, St. Francis-St. Stephen’s in Geneva, West Street Elementary in Geneva, Lafayette Elementary School in Waterloo, and at Trinity Church in Geneva as part of an afterschool program.
Last year, 175 HWS students participated in America Reads, contributing more than 6,300 hours of service-work.
“I believe the program is worthwhile because it addresses a demonstrated need in our community. Our tutors help raise literacy levels as well as provide afterschool programming in a safe atmosphere,” says Jeremy Wattles, assistant director at the Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning. “America Reads also provides Hobart and William Smith students with a valuable, experiential learning opportunity.”
Many tutors agree that the experience benefits them as well as the students they are helping.
Amanda Slack ’11, who worked at St. Francis-St. Stephen’s School, says it feels good to give back to the community. “We make a big difference in these little kids’ lives. They really look forward to the college students coming in every week.”
Campbell was surprised by the camaraderie that he was able to develop. “You wouldn’t think it possible for a college student and third-grader to be friends, but it happens every single semester.”
America Reads tutors are selected based on an application process at the beginning of the semester. The program is still looking for tutors for this upcoming semester.
The application can be found online on the HWS website at http://www.hws.edu/academics/service/volunteer_opportunities.aspx or by contacting the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning at 315-781-3825.
In the photo above, America Reads tutor Mohamed Anas Mounir ’13 helps Anneudi read Donald Crews’ “Freight Train” at West Street School last year.