An opportunity to change your community, one student at a time

Benjamin Westby
Benjamin Westby

By Benjamin Westby – Guest columnist

Being a literacy tutor with the Minnesota Reading Corps was an unbelievable experience for me this past 2011-2012 school year. This program is a division of AmeriCorps that places literacy tutors in schools all over our state with the goal of helping every Minnesota student become proficient in reading skills by the end of third grade.

It was incredible to see the changes in the students at Earle Brown Elementary in Brooklyn Center as their proficiency in reading increased through the one-on-one interventions that I learned to use through the Reading Corps training. Each student was so unique with their own challenges to reading and the Reading Corps training gave me different options to make reading successful for each of them.

Over the course of this school year, I have had many success stories. Two of my students were first graders who were reading at the bottom level of their class. After going through Minnesota Reading Corps’ training, I was able to use one-on-one interventions with them for three months. At the end of the school year, I was proud to learn they are now the top readers in their class. Another student that I will remember for the rest of my life is a second grader whose reading level was at the bottom of the second grade class, and who also faced many other challenges in life and at school. On the last day of school, it wasn’t the fact that the literacy interventions worked that made him stand out in my mind. It is what he said to me in the hallway. He saw me, stopped, pointed and said, “I am going to miss you,” hugged me and walked away. That one comment made the entire year more meaningful and special to me.

This year with the Minnesota Reading Corps was an amazing year for me. My intentions of joining the Minnesota Reading Corps were to see if education was a good career path for me. What I found was a love for teaching and elementary education. My literacy coach at Earle Brown Elementary was outstanding and very supportive of me.

This path to change my career would not have been possible without her, my Reading Corps’ master coach, and my program coordinator who were all there to help me every step of the way.

If you were considering a position of service or discovering your career path in the world of education, I would greatly recommend serving with the Minnesota Reading Corps.

Find out about becoming a literacy tutor in or near Brooklyn Center at