by Dean Sorenmann
A shortfall of direct service with youth remains one of my community’s toughest problems. Two years ago, as I was working on hiring a youth coordinator, my wife asked what I was going to do to serve youth directly. Honestly, she caught me off guard. Later, she discovered Minnesota Reading Corps and brought it to my attention. “Dear,” she said, “why not tutor kids to read?” I accepted the challenge and signed up for one year of service.
Being able to read solves so many social ills and the social return on investment is very high. Literate adults have better health, better pay over a lifetime, more stable families, and significantly lower rates of incarceration. What is not to like about tutoring literacy! The highest return on my investment, however, was the one-on-one time with children. Youth research suggests that for a child to be successful in life, they need at least five adult role models. Tutors are clear role models, and my program, Minnesota Reading Corps, is helping students age three through grade three become successful readers.
My decision to join Reading Corps required the passion to persevere with students who feel defeated at the start, who need a boost in reading. Fortunately, Reading Corps has a well-structured training program ensuring that I could and did make the greatest difference possible. At the end of the year, I had served 36 kindergarten through third grade students, with measurable success. I was accepted to return to the program for yet another year of service.
Minnesota Reading Corps actively manages and supports tutors with excellent resources. Training is upfront and ongoing. Tutors have both internal and master literacy coaches available to them. The program is research driven, has focused on the very best interventions for students, and ensures tutors are very familiar with how to run the program.
Over 600 Minnesota elementary schools will have over 1,100 Minnesota Reading Corps tutors for 2013-14, and many tutor positions are still open. If you want to positively influence students, have a strong desire to work individually with students, and can commit to a year of service, please check out Minnesota Reading Corps and apply now for a year-long position near you. (Reading Corps’ sister program Minnesota Math Corps is also looking for tutors. Visit to learn more.)
A year of service is a compelling story, which changes students’ lives and very likely your own. When you positively affect students, it will positively influence virtually every other classroom experience. Join now.
Dean Sorenmann is a Minnesota Reading Corp Literacy tutor in Northfield.