AmeriCorps in Action

After Helping 100 Students Over Four Fantastic Years, One Tutor Says Farewell… For Now 

At the end of her fourth and final year serving in Reading Corps, Sue and the rest of the school community aren’t quite ready for her to leave. And she might not have to!

After a 33-year career running a daycare from home, Sue was ready for a change. She adored working with children, but after her husband passed away, she wanted to get out of the house and try something new. Four years ago, a family friend who had suggested that Reading Corps would be a great way to use the skills she already had while giving back. It turned out to be a perfect match. She’s now nearing the end of her fourth – and final – term of service and she doesn’t feel ready to say goodbye. 

“I really have loved it here,” Sue says. “It’s not a job, it’s something I really enjoy doing.” 

Joining AmeriCorps

Sue has served as a Reading Tutor since the fall of 2020, deep in the first year of the pandemic. It proved tricky at first to learn the tutoring techniques virtually, especially for someone who doesn’t know much about technology. However, she quickly got a handle on the process and found both the training and tutoring process “really easy to learn.” 

She soon found success with students too. The passion for connecting to children that had fueled her career reignited as she began tutoring sessions. These days, she tutors in person every day at the same elementary school she started at, working one-on-one to help students build their reading skills. Once students get to know her, they jump at the chance to work with “Ms. Sue.” However, that trust takes time.  

“Sometimes I’m taking them away from play time so, that’s not quite as fun,” she says. Once they get to know her, that attitude turns around fast. “I have a new student and he’s always so happy to see me. Those are the things that make it worthwhile.” 

Forming Strong Connections

Sue’s relationships with students have been so strong that even after some of them reach reading proficiency and graduate from tutoring, they still want to spend time with her. A few even stopped turning in reading assignments, hoping lower grades would mean they can return to Sue’s room! They quickly got back on track after Ms. Sue “gave them a little pep talk” but moments like that show the powerful connections Reading Corps tutors make with their students. 

Sue doesn’t just make these kinds of deep connections to a handful of students. After four years, Sue has helped more than 100 students bring their reading up to grade level. 

“That’s one fifth of my school!” she says excitedly. 

Not Ready to Say Goodbye

Sue has become a major part of the community in her four years. Outside of academics, she also volunteers as the school’s mascot for big events, wearing a horse costume in honor of the Meadowview Mustangs. In fact, Sue’s impact on the school has been so great that it’s not just her who wishes she could stay in Reading Corps longer.  

As AmeriCorps members, Reading Corps tutors are subject to term-limits that are part of federal legislation. Determined to try and change the rules, her principal led a letter-writing campaign to allow Sue additional service terms. Faculty, students, and even parents joined in, lending their voices and signatures to the effort. 

“They sent about 100 letters,” she says. “Everybody at school signed one!” 

 Regardless of how the campaign would end up, the gesture meant the world to Sue. 

“Reading Corps has just been wonderful,” she says. “I was a widow. It was really nice to come and be in a school that accepted me as part of the family.” 

As the school year came to a close, Sue got the confirmation she had been hoping for. She will be returning to the school next year, but not through AmeriCorps. Beginning this fall, Sue will join the staff as the newest substitute assistant, filling in at the library, in classrooms, and directly with the students she has come to love.  

“It’s so rewarding,” says Sue. “To see that I can help.” 

We’re looking for more people like Sue to become Reading Tutors across the country! Visit to learn more and apply at a school near you.

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