Tyler Simpson is currently in his second year serving as an AmeriCorps Minnesota Reading Corps volunteer at Chatfield Elementary School.  He enjoys getting group hugs from kindergartners, teaching students how to read and taking part in CES activities.  At the end of the school year, the elementary will be seeking three new volunteers to work with students in reading and math.  Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy/Chatfield News
Tyler Simpson is currently in his second year serving as an AmeriCorps Minnesota Reading Corps volunteer at Chatfield Elementary School. He enjoys getting group hugs from kindergartners, teaching students how to read and taking part in CES activities. At the end of the school year, the elementary will be seeking three new volunteers to work with students in reading and math. Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy/Chatfield News

Tyler Simpson has volunteered to make a difference through AmeriCorps and the Minnesota Reading Corps Program.

“The goal of AmeriCorps is to help every Minnesota child become a successful reader by the end of third grade,” related Chatfield Elementary School (CES) reading specialist Elissa Johnsrud. She went on to explain that the Minnesota Reading Corps is part of AmeriCorps, placing volunteers in classrooms to help students master the tenets of literacy. 

“Reading Corps has demonstrated it can help make a positive impact on the reading ability of young students,” Johnsrud said. “Minnesota Reading Corps places more than 1,000 literacy tutors in Minnesota schools each year. We were awarded two literacy tutors next year, one as a kindergarten focus position and a first through third grade reading tutor, just like Tyler is.  Reading Corps members assess students to identify areas of need. Tyler works with students who need a boost in reading, whether it be in phonemic awareness, phonics or fluency.  He is able to see students 20 minutes daily, one on one.”

Simpson, a 2009 Chatfield High School graduate, attended Luther College to major in history and music.  He joined the Minnesota Reading Corps shortly thereafter to start his teaching career.  He originally wanted to become a concert pianist. But he’s found his place in classrooms to be quite comfortable as he lends his knowledge to the elementary learners. 

Johnsrud related, “He uses data to inform his instruction, and he continually monitors progress and helps students achieve literacy levels through his daily tutoring.  Tyler is able to give students an extra dose of reading instruction and has a very specific, scripted program he takes students through.  He monitors their growth closely.”

Johnsrud commented that having Simpson and other volunteers like him in the classroom provides teachers with an opportunity to delegate intervention duties to someone who isn’t responsible for the entire class.  “I think teachers really appreciate having an extra intervention that is one on one to give students more practice on their individual skills. The progress monitoring forms really help teachers monitor students’ growth.”  

CES has been awarded three AmeriCorps positions for the 2015-2016 school year, and Johnsrud hopes that volunteers, be they college students or retirees, step up and give of their time.  Besides the two literary positions there is also a fourth through sixth grade math tutor.  Persons are trained by AmeriCorps staff for a few days in the summer and have a master coach they work with in the school.  One does not need an education degree or experience to apply, as they are fully trained. Persons interested can apply on the Minnesota Reading and Math Corps website. 

“It is a great opportunity and a year of service for your community,” Johnsrud added. 

Best yet, volunteers like Simpson get group hugs from kindergartners who are confident about how to read that next big book.