Not all students are able to get all the instruction they need during regular class time, and thus, the need for tutors. For those looking for potential supplemental income, tutoring could be a great opportunity.
Minnesota is among the highest in the nation in achievement gap, meaning the need is greater in this area. Princeton and Milaca are no exception. Princeton has seven openings for the upcoming school year; Milaca has eight openings. Statewide, the Minnesota Reading and Math Corps report the need for about 1,700 additional tutors.
The program is called “Help Minnesota Be More. Give Your Time as a Tutor.” The Minnesota Reading and Math Corps are hoping to serve more than 35,000 Minnesota students.
“The biggest challenge with finding tutors is getting the word out that there is a need out there,” said Brianne Benson-Schlegel, a Duluth-based recruiter for the Minnesota Math and Reading Corps. “I don’t think many people know that we’re out there helping students with reading and math skills. It’s a great opportunity for people with a love of children who want to help out.”
According to the Minnesota Reading Corps, 1 in 3 Minnesota third graders are not reading at grade level. Its statewide program places trained AmeriCorps tutors in schools and preschools, where they deliver literacy strategies to help children get ready for kindergarten and on track to become successful readers by the end of third grade.
Similar numbers are true on the math side, with state exam results showing 40 percent of Minnesota eighth graders do not demonstrate grade-level proficiency in math. The Minnesota Math Corps program places trained tutors in schools to deliver research-based math strategies that help students in grades four through eight build the skills needed to succeed in math.
“We have had several tutors who have worked the maximum number of years that AmeriCorps allows, which is four years,” said John Beach, principal at Princeton Intermediate School. “Two of the members were honored for their work at a school board meeting last spring. They spoke about how they benefited from their experience as much as the students they worked with did. They invest themselves into a small number of students and work intensively with them to help them grow.”
Milaca Elementary School has been involved with the program for about 10 years, but only had three tutors a year ago. Principal Steve Voshell acknowledged finding willing participants isn’t easy.
“We’re always applying to the program for several tutors, but it’s becoming more difficult to find them,” Voshell said. “The program has been an integral part of our support system for students. Some of the former tutors have even become teachers. People should know that we provide them a lot of support for what they do. They’ll be taught what to do, and they are thought of as part of their staff once they get here.”
Math and literacy tutors are trained by Math Corps and Reading Corps. Tutor candidates come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from high school graduates to retirees. Mid-career individuals considering a professional change are also excellent candidates. Parents have also found tutoring as a way to give back to their child’s school, Schlegel said.
“It’s a great opportunity for college students, for stay at home parents who are looking to get themselves out there a little and also retirees or seniors who want to give back to those in need,” Schlegel said.
Tutors are being sought for three different levels of commitment: 35, 25 or 18 hours a week. Tutors receive a stipend every two weeks of up to $445 per week and can earn up to an additional $4,200 for student loans or tuition, which can be gifted to a family member if the tutor is 55 or older. Many tutors also qualify for additional benefits like free health insurance and child care assistance. They are looking for anyone 18 and over with a high school degree or GED.
“I would say to someone who is thinking about becoming a member to fill out the application and learn more about what it means to be a tutor for AmeriCorps,” Beach said. “The need tutors is there in both reading and math. People shouldn’t shy away because they don’t think they are a teacher. What is required is a caring adult to build positive relationship with students. The content that is worked on with the students is very basic and tutors are given training so that they are comfortable with the content.”