As a Reading Corps tutor at Northern Elementary, I’ve been amazed by the significant strides so many students are making in reading. I’ve seen children transform from shy, struggling students into confident learners. But many more need support. In fact, 1 in 3 Minnesota third graders is not reading at grade level.

I’m one of more than 1,000 Minnesota Reading Corps tutors serving in schools and early learning centers as part of this AmeriCorps service program. I love working with Bemidji’s children, and I am hoping that my story will inspire others to join me in this life-changing opportunity.

I began serving at Northern Elementary School one year ago because I love kids, and I want to see students who are struggling with reading succeed. They can bring so much joy to the world, and it breaks my heart to see them let down. But I have seen how the program converts a timid student into a confident reader. Reading Corps truly changes lives. It changes tutors’ lives too -- I plan to pursue a career in education or children’s ministries as a result of Reading Corps’ impact on my life.

Reading Corps tutors use data-driven, one-on-one and small group instruction to get kids on track to read proficiently by third grade. Tutors work with kids daily in more than 700 elementary schools and preschools across the state, including in Bemidji. As a result of this individualized attention and encouragement, most students read at their grade level within one year.

Tutors receive extensive training and support from on-site staff. We earn a living allowance, as well as a financial award for education or student loans, plus health care and child care assistance benefits, and opportunities to network and grow professionally.

I encourage anyone who is interested in tutoring to visit the Minnesota Reading Corps website (minnesotareadingcorps.org) to find out more about the benefits and the independent research that shows the difference Reading Corps makes. You will also see inspiring testimonies from tutors, teachers and parents. I challenge you to discover if Reading Corps is right for you.

Reading Corps truly changes lives. It has changed my life -- and the lives of the young learners with whom I work.