ESLC Honored as America Reads Site of the Year

Last Friday, April 19, East Side Learning Center received the America Reads Site of the Year Award. America Reads is a literacy mentoring program with chapters at colleges and universities all over the country. Each chapter is a little bit different, and we are happy to be in partnership with the incredible chapter operated by the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.

Each day, about 15 dedicated literacy mentors drive over from Minneapolis to the east side of St. Paul to provide vital services to our children. Our literacy mentors are highly trained and enthusiastic college students. Many are education majors with plans to become teachers, and some are not. One is an art major.

The America Reads literacy mentors provide such a high level of service, and are among the most dependable college students who volunteer with East Side Learning Center. Watching the literacy mentors in action, it is easy to see that they enjoy their work.

On a recent visit to Community of Peace, I was struck by the loving environment the literacy mentors help create. As a group of kindergartners was getting ready to leave, they were all smiles. One little girl proudly held out the worksheet she had completed. She went around the room showing off her perfectly executed lower case “g” as all the mentors, not just the one who had tutored her, told her what a good job she had done. The pride beaming from this little kindergartener is what ESLC strives for everyday; we want children not only to learn how to read, but to love reading. Building self esteem is an integral part of our program.

literacy mentor and kid

We love our literacy mentors, and apparently the feeling is mutual. Here is what some of them had to say about ESLC:

"Everyone who works there is so nice and helpful and friendly. They always thank my fellow tutors and I. You can tell that they love their job by how engaging and passionate they are. I also love the (three) kids I work with. It seems they enjoy working with me and are very respectful. Most importantly, I would tutor there again in a heartbeat."

"I love John A. Johnson Elementary because it's a site where I feel like my skills as a literacy mentor are appreciated and utilized. Also the staff at Johnson is amazing. They always greet us when we arrive and are always there to answer my questions. Another thing they do that makes me feel like I belong is they ask me how things are going with the site and with my students."

"This is a wonderful place to tutor because we are given everything we could possibly need in order to work with the students. The staff is always incredibly nice and receptive to feedback for students. It is fantastic to work in an environment where the students have such positive attitudes (especially for after school!), and I strongly believe that the coordination of the program is completely responsible for such a success."

These encouraging words of support remind us that we are doing it right! At the event on Friday, representatives from ESLC were presented with the Site of the Year Certificate. Sister Sharon White, Program Director, spoke briefly about our wonderful experience with America Reads. We thank all of our literacy mentors, and hope this incredible partnership continues far into the future!