Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
DES celebrates reading program’s success

March 16, 2009

By Jen Bakken
Staff Writer

DELANO, MN – Delano Elementary School is celebrating the success of its partnership with Americorps’ Minnesota Reading Corps (MRC).

This statewide initiative helps ensure every student in the state becomes a successful reader.

In the program’s first year at the elementary school, MRC members have been working one-on-one with students in kindergarten through third grade.

Each day, for approximately 20 minutes, these dedicated individuals meet with students to provide extra support and encouragement while practicing their reading skills.

The MRC members work closely with classroom teachers and are trained in the latest research-based literacy instruction.

The progress of each student is monitored on a weekly basis and they exit the program when they reach their reading goal.

“The results really speak for themselves,” said Lisa Downer, a DES basic skills tutor. “More than 75 students have been worked with and the program enables us to service more kids.”

MRC is an AmeriCorps service program that engages people in a year-long commitment to service in meeting needs in their local communities. Piloted in 2003, the state-funded program, has become the fourth largest AmeriCorps state program in the United States.

Typically, MRC members are recent college graduates, parents, retired teachers, or those looking to make a career change.

For Sara Koivisto, being a MRC member appealed to her because of the ability to work with students one-on-one.

“You get to choose three schools you’d like to work at,” she said. “I’m glad I came to Delano. It’s been a good experience.”

Selected members are paid with a stipend, education award, and health care benefits for full-time members.

“This can lead to many things for the members,” said Downer. “It’s a great way for them to network.”

This year, Delano Elementary School has had one full-time MRC member and two part time. The school hopes to continue the successful program with four members, as long as its grant applications are approved.

Ideal MRC candidates love to work with children, and have a desire to advance their career and give back to the community. Positions are full or part time and begin in August. Members can serve for up to two years.

“Last year, they placed about 800 MRC members throughout the state,” said Downer. “It is projected to double next year.”

For more information regarding MRC or to apply to be a team member for the next school year, visit www.minnesotareadingcorps.org.

At Delano Elementary School, 89 percent of their 320 students are proficient on the MCA reading test and the school hopes to increase this number. The school is consistently in the top 10 percent of the state in comparison to other schools, and this year was named a Minnesota School of Excellence.


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