Reading between the lines: Tutoring helps one at a time
By Michelle Fricke ’05
In the summer before I came to Bradley University, I received a letter inviting me to apply for a tutoring position with America Reads. By attending the tutor information session, I found out that the America Reads tutoring program was initiated by former President Bill Clinton. This program was created in response to a 1994 report, which estimated that 23 million Americans could not read or write. America Reads targets children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Most of the tutoring sessions focus on working one-on-one with students; this stimulates their interest and growth in reading. I also learned that Bradley was one of 1,400 colleges and universities that participate in this program. Tutors are paid entirely through Federal Work Study funding.
The America Reads tutoring program at Bradley University, which is administered through its Smith Career Center, offers several placements to reach the youngsters. When the program started in 1997, tutors could travel to one of two Peoria Public School District primary schools by van for before- or after-school programs, or tutors could work with Peoria area children in the Smith Career Center during evening tutoring sessions. The program has increased greatly in size since then. In 1997, tutors worked with children a total of 3,600 hours; tutoring hours increased to nearly 9,000 this past year. The program has added three schools, including two middle schools, as well as Common Place, a community literacy center.
Through this program, I have been able to help students learn the most important skill in their lives: to read at a functional level. I am able to establish a relationship with the students I tutor, and we look forward to seeing each other every day. I always begin the session by reading poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends; this allows us to start reading something funny that could later lead into reading books. The students always love to pick out funny poems for me to read. This past year, I worked with the same student the entire year. This enabled us to have a closer relationship second semester. She would come to the session with a huge smile on her face, and she would give me a big hug before leaving.
I have seen all students improve their reading skills in some way, whether it is recognizing a sight word or being able to sound out more difficult words on their own. The American Reads tutoring program has made a difference in both the lives of the students I have helped as well as my own.
At left, Diane Wade ’04, a four-year volunteer of the America Reads program, tutors students from Harrison Primary School, one of Bradley’s original partners.
Bon Voyage, Class of 2008! Members of one freshman orientation class take to the water on the Spirit of Peoria before beginning their Bradley adventure this fall. Thirteen orientation classes are offered to incoming freshmen and their parents.
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