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Jon Baden, right, tutors first-grader Layla Hansen in Adams Elementary in Coon Rapids Oct. 29. (Photo by Connor Cummiskey)

Tutors are needed to fill dozens of spots in AmeriCorps’ Minnesota Reading Corps program.

The Anoka-Hennepin School District is seeking 33 tutors to join the Minnesota Reading Corp in 10 elementary schools across the district.

Tutors work one-on-one with a caseload of students every day for 20 minutes each. Kids are selected based on whether they need services they otherwise wouldn’t receive.

“What we do is we step in and work with students that might not otherwise qualify for services,” program manager Chris Erickson said. “They are the kids that score close to grade level but are not quite there yet. So we really serve a targeted, specific area that not a lot of other services even touch.”

It’s a rewarding job, according to reading tutor Jon Baden. Baden became a tutor after seeing it advertised in the newspaper. He was retired and needed something to do, he said, so he applied thinking it would be fun.

Three intensive days of training later, Baden was less sure, but his doubts would prove unfounded once he began tutoring.

“I started working with the kids ,and it’s more fun than playing in water,” he said. “I mean, they are incredible.”

Baden’s day starts with 30 minutes of filling out forms on the computer to track students’ progress, then he spends the rest of his day with student after student in 20 minute increments. He does get a working lunch, where he likes to draw decorations on student folders.

With each student Baden performs interventions that usually involve practicing techniques like sounding out individual letters and combining them into words.

The kids keep Baden coming back, he said. While he’s waiting for his current students to arrive, kids he tutored in previous years will come by to say hi.

One successful case Baden remembers fondly was a boy who only recognized one letter sound when he started working with Baden last year. The two worked together through November, when the student only had about half a dozen letter sounds. Baden’s coaches began suggesting the student go somewhere else to get supports, but Baden insisted on working with him.

“We worked with just the sounds in his name, no vowels, just consonants, and in early December it just clicked,” Baden said. “This year when they tested him, he had the highest score in his class.”

Tutors can choose how many hours they work a week from part time to full time and are paid a stipend every two weeks. They can also get an education award for student loans and federal loan forbearance. When working enough hours, they can qualify for health insurance and child care assistance.

Baden said the job is good for students taking a gap year, those going into teaching and retired seniors. Baden himself was a mechanic before he retired.

“I never thought I’d do anything like this,” he said.

Tutors who join now will start in January and work until the end of the school year. After that they can reapply for the position starting next school year.

To become a tutor visit readingandmath.net or call 866-859-2825.

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