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Hastings schools will have five literacy tutors for 2012-13

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Hastings schools have been awarded five Minnesota Reading Corps literacy tutors for the 2012-2013 school year.

Minnesota Reading Corps, a statewide initiative to help every Minnesota child become a successful reader by the end of third grade, plans to grow nearly 40 percent and place more than 1,000 tutors in preschools and elementary schools statewide.

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Among more than 600 sites awarded, Kennedy, Pinecrest and McAuliffe elementary schools are actively recruiting to fill at least three more elementary literacy tutor positions immediately for the 2012-2013 school year. One position has been filled for the school readiness program through Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE).

Hastings School District 200 submitted applications for the program, funded primarily on the federal level, last year. The 2012-2013 school year will be the first time literacy tutors from Minnesota Reading Corps will be in the schools, all under the direction and supervision of administrators.

Anna Peters, recruitment and outreach manager for Minnesota Reading Corps, said several factors are included when the group makes its decision on where to send tutors.

"Of course we consider the need, look at the number of elementary schools in the area (and) the number of free and reduced lunches," she said.

The program, which is receiving national attention and even replication in Washington, D.C. and Denver, sees 80 percent of Reading Corps students pass the standardized reading assessment, all of whom were originally on track to fail, the organization said. That surpasses the statewide pass rate of 78 percent.

Tutors will work one-on-one with students from preschool to third grade to implement research-based early-literacy strategies to help catch kids up to their grade level. The positions are full-time. Minnesota Reading Corps tutors commit to 11 months of AmeriCorps service, during which they receive a modest living allowance of about $500 bi-weekly and an education award. Full-time tutors may also receive health insurance.

"We provide the training - we train according to our model," said Peters. "Many of our tutors are recent college graduates, some are retirees, some are parents who have that commitment."

She stressed that tutors work full time, up to 40 hours per week throughout the school year. They are paid a stipend, averaging about $1,000 per month.

"There is nothing greater than seeing a student who has no desire to read develop into one of your best students and gain skills that will open doors for future success," said George Ochoa, a Minnesota Reading Corps tutor. "By serving as a literacy tutor, I could be part of the change I wanted to see."

Whatever an individual's reason for joining Minnesota Reading Corps, most experience significant personal growth, said Peters. Some join because it is a great way to build experience in the working world and network with education professionals. Others have years of experience and are seeking to broaden their knowledge or make a career change. Still others serve because they enjoy working with children and are looking for a deeper connection to their community and local school.

Those interested in learning more and applying to serve for one year should visit www.MinnesotaReadingCorps.org or contact Peters at 612-206-3034. An application form is available at the website and should be completed soon. Training sessions are scheduled for August in St. Paul.

The Minnesota Reading Corps is committed to recruiting and engaging individuals without regard to race, color, national origin, disability, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation or other non-merit factors.

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