Building an Educator Pipeline: The Journey from Tutor to Teacher 

Many of our members have used their tutoring experience as a springboard into careers in public education. To learn more, we spoke to more than a dozen alumni of our education programs who have gone to jobs as teachers, paraeducators, and interventionists.

With fewer college students graduating from teacher preparation programs, the need for more kindergarten and elementary school educators is only growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 109,000 positions will go unfilled every year for the next decade. To help address this need, our tutors can be an incredible talent pool for finding future educators. We are proud to report that our latest member survey found that more than half of tutors hope to pursue a career in education after their service!  

Career development has always been a core component of our programs, so the new data got us curious about the different ways that tutors use their AmeriCorps experience as a springboard into teaching. To learn more, we spoke to more than a dozen alumni who have gone on to become teachers, paraeducators, and interventionists.  

Sparking an Interest in Education 

For many alumni, serving as a tutor is their initial inspiration to pursue teaching full time. This was the case for Kendra, who joined Reading Corps in 2011. She hadn’t planned on going into education at all, having studied communications in college. But as she completed her year of service helping kindergarteners improve their reading, she knew she was now on the right path. She remembers the moment when a comment from the school staff lit a new fire in her. 

“It was actually the librarian at my school who said, ‘You connect with the students: you have a smile on your face when I see you in the hallway with them. Have you ever thought about being a teacher?’” recalls Kendra. “That’s when I decided that I wanted to go into education.” 

She pivoted from Reading Corps to working as a paraeducator and enrolled in night classes to work toward her master’s and teaching license. Three years later, she secured a job in Mounds View, Minnesota as a 1st grade teacher. This June, she celebrated her tenth year at her school. 

“That year with Reading Corps was really my gateway to knowing this is something I want to do long-term,” she says.  

Seeing Yourself as a Teacher 

Sparkle, an Early Learning Corps alumna and kindergarten teacher from the Miami are, had a similar trajectory. She was studying sociology when she took a chance on something different and joined Reading Corps. The experience of helping students reshaped her future.  

“I wasn’t an education major, but I took the opportunity. I thought, ‘Let me try it out,’” says Sparkle. “It was a really great opportunity. There was no other way for me to get that kind of experience. That’s what ultimately helped me make up my mind and change to an education major. And now I’m here in my own classroom!” 

Just up the road near Fort Lauderdale, Caryn, another Early Learning Corps tutor, had a similar realization during her service.  

“It was so fun going to the school, interacting with the kids, doing my interventions,” she says. Caryn was able to get her Child Development Associate certification at no cost and at the end of her fourth year of service, the school hired her full time. “To see how the kids progressed was so rewarding!” 

Learning What it Takes, Growing into New Roles 

Kendra, Sparkle, and Caryn weren’t the only ones who found a sense of purpose and assurance through tutoring. For many members, service allows them to first dip their toes into education and then gives them the confidence to dive in. 

“It’s a great opportunity to get into the realm of education,” says Taylor, a Wisconsin Reading Corps alumna who went on to teach 1st, 2nd, and 4th grade. “I’ve heard from so many other tutors who said, ‘I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and now I know I love education.’ It’s getting people’s eyes open to what education entails.” 

Taylor went from tutoring straight to teaching, but she knows a few discovered a passion for supporting students in other capacities.  

In 2015, Bob was happily retired but wanted to stay involved in the community, leading him to Math Corps.  

“I wanted to give back after a successful career. My daughter had gone into teaching, so when I saw the opening for Math Corps, I jumped in,” he says. The experience was so moving, it upended his plan of staying fully retired. “I loved working with grade schoolers so much, I have been a substitute para every year since!”

Opening the Door to a Lifelong Dream  

While many discover a passion for helping students through service with Reading Corps, Math Corps and Early Learning Corps, many others use it as a path to break into a to something they love.  

When Drea applied to become a Reading Corps tutor in 2011, she already had experience as a licensed teacher. However, she had been away from the profession for more than five years to care for her family. 

“I was scared to get back in because I had been gone for so long… I felt like, ‘I’m a teacher and I would love to get my foot in the door.’” 

Reading Corps did just that. Drea thrived as a tutor and served the full four years. Her experience and the relationships she developed with the school community led her to a full-time interventionist position in the same district. Three years later, Drea was back in a classroom of her own, where she has been ever since. She even still uses some of the techniques she learned in Reading Corps: “You apply it, and it makes all the difference.” 

Building Skills for Excellence in the Classroom 

Every former tutor we spoke to echoed the sentiment that their service experience gave them the expertise they needed to succeed as a teacher. Hillary, currently a third-grade teacher in Minnesota, had tried teaching directly out of college, but found the work to be challenging and humbling. Reading Corps provided her the skill building and coaching to help her thrive as an educator.  

“I learned a lot from my experience,” Hillary says. “I think Reading Corps gives you that ability to see things through a different lens. It gives you different tools to be successful.” 

“The problem-solving and the different situations that you experience in a role like Reading Corps tutor is invaluable as an educator,” agrees Kendra, the 1st grade teacher whose service helped inspire her career. 

Brooke, a Reading Corps alumna and current second-grade teacher feels just the same: “The program itself gives super valuable experiences for people who care about kids and care about education. Reading Corps has definitely helped me as a teacher today with my not-at-grade-level readers.” 

A Pool of Talent for Schools 

Much like Drea, Brooke knew she wanted work in education when she joined the program in 2010. And like Drea, Reading Corps was the perfect entry point both into education and into career opportunities in her community. Brooke tutored for one year in Reading Corps before landing a full-time teaching position at her school. The connections she made with students, parents, and teachers alike as a tutor caught the eye of school administrators. 

“I had already built relationships with the students who needed additional help, and their parents had more trust in me. Some of the students who I had worked with one-on-one in tutoring were then in my class the following year!” she says. 

Those students have long since graduated, but 13 years later, Brooke is still teaching at the same school. 

Adam followed a similar path to teaching. He was studying education and looking for a way to get experience with students when he joined Reading Corps in 2012. Adam spent one year in Reading Corps, one as a student-teacher, and one in Math Corps, all at the same school. In 2015, the principal created a new fifth grade classroom just for him and hired him to teach full-time. Next year will be his tenth year in the same district.  

“I look at my whole time in both Reading Corps and Math Corps as an apprenticeship,” he says. “I would not be here doing what I’m doing without that experience.” 

Supporting Students and Expanding the Education Workforce 

All of these stories speak to the incredible power that AmeriCorps service has for students, schools, and members alike. And there are countless others hoping to make the same difference: a national survey of our members completed in 2024 showed that more than half of all tutors want to pursue a career in education after they finished serving. And those numbers become even more promising when excluding our tutors who plan on retiring: for working-age tutors, a full 60% hope to work in education.

“We were very intentional when designing our programs so that they address both current and future needs of schools,” says Sadie O’Connor, President of Ampact. “By training thousands of tutors, we can give students the academic boost they need and create a pipeline of skilled, experienced alumni to support the educational workforce.” 

We are proud to see the ways that tutoring not only helps students achieve the future they deserve, but members too. Whether it’s a foot in the door at a local school, a new set of skills to reach students, or igniting a newfound passion to teach, we can’t wait to learn how AmeriCorps experience will impact the more than 2,000 tutors currently serving around the country.  

Interested in kick starting your career in education? Students near you need tutors this fall! Learn more at

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