As we celebrate AmeriCorps Week and 25 years of AmeriCorps members getting things done, it’s the perfect time for a throwback Thursday featuring some of our staff reflecting on their time as an AmeriCorps Member.
Reading Corps tutors who are interested in the field of early childhood development now have another great reason to serve: the opportunity to earn a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential at no cost. The benefit is set up in a way that provides support while getting the CDA and makes earning the credential simple and affordable.
“Traditionally, if you wanted to get your CDA, you’d have to find a place to get classroom experience,” said Alison Zellmar, Associate Director of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships for Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps. “Candidates are then faced with finding a place to get training, signing up for a verification visit and completing a portfolio on their own,” she continued. “In all, it would cost you about $2,500.”
Inspired by a similar project developed by Michigan Reading Corps, the Minnesota program launched last fall with a target audience of candidates new to the field of childcare and early childhood education. “We wanted to utilize the structure already in our program, and then add a little bit more, so that members have a very coherent and clear path to getting their credential,” Zellmer said. By participating in the program, people get classroom experience, 120 hours of training and an easy pathway to earning the CDA credential. “All they have to do is show up,” she said. “We take care of the logistics, and provide provide support around preparing your portfolio.”
The nationally-recognized credential prepares people for a career in early childhood and prepares them to work in classrooms with students. It is considered the first step in training for an early childhood development career. Sadie O’Connor, Managing Director of Reading Corps and Math Corps, said the CDA program will ultimately help to create a pipeline of qualified and highly effective educators to classrooms across the state.
“We’re excited to launch this new initiative to provide our Reading Corps tutors with a pathway into early childhood teaching,” O’Connor said. “The experience of being a tutor with our program along with the additional training we’ll provide to earn their CDA will position these candidates to be prepared to be highly effective early childhood educators.”
Do you have questions about applying for the Reading Corps CDA program? Contact Alison Jirik at [email protected]
NewsReading Corps Tutors Can Now Earn a CDA Through This New Program
In 2015, schools were given the chance to begin using a sophisticated data management system (or DMS) to track students in Reading Corps’ progress and outcomes, and now, schools will have the same opportunity to do so with students in Math Corps as a new Math Corps Data Management system (MCDMS) launches across Minnesota this fall.
NewsA New Data Management System for Math Corps Offers Increased Data Gathering Power
Remember the commercial, “There’s an app for that”? Math Corps tutors are about to start quoting it quite a bit as a new math app (which will eventually receive a more creative name) rolls out over the next school year.
The app was a natural way to help deliver math interventions, said Benjamin Swift, the information systems expert who has helped develop the new app for Math Corps.
NewsMath Corps Students Get a New High-Tech Way to Boost Fact Fluency
Tackle the achievement gap by working to help students build skills and confidence
Work to bridge the opportunity gap by helping individuals find and keep good-paying jobs
Support those in recovery as they chart a new course in the community
Choose to serve 18, 25, 35 or 40 hours a week. While serving, members receive great perks like a stipend every two weeks, additional funds for housing assistance and up to $4,200 for college tuition or loans. Health insurance is available at no cost to members serving full-time (35+ hours a week) and childcare assistance is available to eligible families.
Current opportunities in Longfellow include the following sites:
By Lindsay Dolce, J.D.
Republished with permission from ServeMinnesota
Editor’s Note: Lindsay Dolce is the Chief Advancement Officer for Reading & Math Foundation, which advances the replication and expansion efforts for the proven Minnesota Reading Corps model and the Minnesota Math Corps model in new communities nationwide.
In 2002, when I started a new job as an attorney working on family law matters, I had no idea that nearly 20 years later I would leave the practice of law to pursue a career that allows me to support nearly 40,000 children each year with critical reading and math interventions.
The path was not a straight line, in fact it was quite curvy but the common thread all along was that I wanted to be a voice for children who are not able to advocate for themselves. Over the last 20 years advocating for “littles” I have learned a few important facts. First, I have NEVER met a child who is not “ready to learn.” Children are born with an amazing sense of curiosity and adventure. They bring that with them when they show up at school for the first time, and what I know is that AmeriCorps members who choose to serve in school settings are able to turn that curiosity and sense of adventure into something exceptional … growth. The AmeriCorps members who choose to serve as a Reading Corps or Math Corps tutor often tell me that they weren’t quite sure what they were signing up for but it exceeded their expectations. Having a chance to support children in their learning journey and provide hope about their ability to achieve is the greatest gift a person can give a child.
I am honored to help lead an organization that invests in creating brighter futures for children by taking the science behind reading and math comprehension and using it to fuel the tools our tutors use every day in classrooms around the country with kids. For nearly 20 years I have observed a variety of nonprofits running different programs nationally. What truly sets Reading Corps and Math Corps apart is the single-minded focus on making sure what we do works and actually helps move the needle for kids age three to grade three in reading and fourth through eighth grade in math.
When I made the transition from being a family law attorney to working in the nonprofit world I heard the phrase “evidence-based interventions” a lot. To be honest, I didn’t have the foggiest idea why that was so important until I started to look at the outcomes of different programs. I don’t have a Ph.D., but I can see the difference between children scoring in the proficient versus not proficient categories. It befuddled me that so many kids were finishing kindergarten and third grade “not ready” to advance to the next grade. Especially when we know that if a child fails to learn how to read by third grade, that child is more likely to dropout of high school and face enormous challenges in life. ALL of this starts in the first years of a child’s life. Without a solid foundation, children are not able to make the critical transition from learning to read to reading to learn.
Advances in child development and educational psychology have converged on three compelling conclusions. Here is what science tells us:
Early experiences are built into our bodies. Significant adversity can produce physiological disruptions or biological “memories” that undermine the development of the body’s stress response systems and affect the developing brain, cardiovascular system, immune system and metabolic regulatory controls. These physiological disruptions can persist far into adulthood.
Nevertheless, the power of high-quality relationships and learning experiences can demonstrably improve children’s outcomes.
In short – what happens during, and after, a child’s early experiences matters A LOT.
Here is what common sense tells us:
Caring adults can provide young children with positive relationships, rich learning opportunities and safe environments.
When those caring adults sign up for an AmeriCorps experience in Reading Corps and Math Corps, they are committed to helping children acquire two of the most fundamental learning — and life — skills that people need for success.
The combination of caring adults who help children have high-quality learning experiences shouldimprove student outcomes.
It does! The evidence behind Reading and Math Corps proves it. Investments in evidence-based programs that demonstrate growth and strong outcomes for children are the closest thing to a golden ticket we can give our children.
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You’ve graduated from school, you’ve earned your degree and now you’re looking for the perfect job to launch your career. But the end of college also means it’s time to start paying back those student loans. Have you started thinking about your repayment plan? Did you know your service as a full-time AmeriCorps tutor can help qualify you for public student loan forgiveness?
Managed by the federal government, the Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program forgives student loans for those employed full-time (more than 30 hours) in a public service position or by an eligible 501(c)(3) nonprofit who make 120 eligible payments over a 10 year period. If you plan to continue work in the public service or nonprofit space and are interested in applying, your service as a full-time AmeriCorps tutor may count toward these requirements!
Already applied for PSLF and were denied? There’s more good news! In May, the government announced the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which allows borrowers whose applications were previously denied due to an ineligible payment plan a second chance at the now $350 million in available funds. If you previously applied for PSLF and would like your application reconsidered, follow the instructions listed here.
Tutors must be making student loan payments while in service to qualify. Your Education Award received at the end of your term of service may be used toward these payments, but the recommended payment amount may differ depending on your participation in the Income-Based Repayment plan.
Jason Harris, Principal South Jr. High School, Saint Cloud, Minnesota
With nearly 1,000 students in his building, Jason Harris wanted to increase his capacity to serve students who needed extra support. He says Math Corps made perfect sense. “Not all kids thrive in a classroom,” he explains. “Some kids – and specifically the kids we serve in Math Corps – really need that individualized attention and the focused practice.”
Harris notes that by the time students get to junior high, too many have decided that they can’t do math – this is a notion Math Corps tutors help dismantle. Working with a tutor, students begin to build both their skills and confidence. “When we pull the data, we see most kids are getting to the next level,” Harris says. “The extra support really helps them get off the bubble.”
Over the past five years, South Junior High has typically had two Math Corps tutors devoted to working with students during the school day. In addition to tutoring, Math Corps tutors also assist students after school with homework and help support the larger learning community. “We’ve had college students, parents and retirees serve with Math Corps at South,” Harris notes. “They do a great job working with our students.”
Harris and his team collaborate with the district and Math Corps to promote the opportunity to serve and let people know their students need tutors. “We get it on our district website, in our school newsletter, we distribute flyers and really get out there to connect with St. Cloud State University students as well.”
Asked what he’d tell his colleagues who don’t already have Math Corps in their building, his response is quick. “Go ahead and get a Math Corps tutor! Why would you pass up a resource that can help your kids learn and achieve in math?”
Reading Corps and Math Corps combine the people power of AmeriCorps and the science of learning to provide a solution to help narrow achievement gaps and help students become successful learners by the end of third and eighth grade.