May 24, 2017
Why educators are opting for a year of service with Reading Partners and TFA
Meleah Campbell is a University of California, Davis graduate with a passion for children and education. After completing one term as a site coordinator for Reading Partners, she has committed to serving two years with Teach For America. She will be earning a multiple subject teaching credential and a master’s in urban education from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
I first discovered Reading Partners while working as a college/career readiness program manager. The organization appeared when I was searching for community service opportunities for my high school students. I was pleased with the idea of combining community service with education. Together with a few of my former students, we all became reading partners.
After several months of tutoring, I was truly impressed with the achievements of my student. Not only do most Reading Partners students meet or exceed their growth goals, but the organization provides an excellent platform for individuals to become involved in education. It’s amazing to see community volunteers teaching students the critical lifelong skill of reading.
My first year of service
I decided to sign on for a year of AmeriCorps service as a Reading Partners site coordinator. Through my service, I gained expansive knowledge in literacy instruction. The majority of the 52 students served in my reading center required support in learning the basic elements of reading. As a site coordinator, it was imperative to create instructional reading plans that catered to the individual needs of our students.
Working in the classroom highlighted the alarming nationwide statistics: only 20 percent of low-income students read proficiently by the fourth grade. This led me to commit the next two years teaching in a low income community through Teach For America. Whose mission is to enlist “future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.”
The next step in my career as an educator
As my term with Reading Partners comes to an end, I am excited for the opportunity to grow as an educator and leader with Teach For America. Serving a year as a site coordinator has equipped me with strategies and classroom knowledge that I look forward to implementing with my future students.
I’ve experienced the pleasure of having amazing teachers who sparked my interest in learning and encouraged my academic and personal growth. I will strive to create a similar experience for my students by establishing an environment that encourages creativity and curiosity.
Reading Partners New York program manager, Allison Hoyle, reflects on her time as a Teach for America corps member. She believes a year of service with Reading Partners AmeriCorps is a great advantage for TFA corps members.
Teach For America changed my career markedly. What began as a two year commitment to service, morphed into the beginnings of a career in the education sector. The achievement gap that existed for my first and third grade students felt gargantuan. And seeing their progress throughout the year sparked my interest in literacy instruction and assessment.
After working as a literacy coach and interning with the Ohio Department of Education, I am thrilled to work an organization that knows the value and the power of early literacy intervention. Aside from the mission and program model, one of my favorite aspects of my current role is coaching Reading Partners’ AmeriCorps members. A task that brings my experience full circle.
While I wouldn’t change my two years in the classroom for anything, I can see how a year as a site coordinator would have made me a more successful teacher. I could have gained a greater understanding of the basic pillars of reading instruction, learned how to manage student behavior, and become more detail-oriented and organized.
A year of service can be a transformative stepping stone to a career in education. I feel confident that our current cohort of aspiring educators will enter the classroom setting with the right skills and mindsets.