The University of San Francisco is marking 15 years of tutoring
in San Francisco schools as part of America Reads, a program that USF students have
taken part in since its founding.
America Reads, created in 1998 by the Corporation for National and Community Service, recruits college
students across the nation to tutor elementary school students in literacy. Hundreds
of USFers have participated in the program, tutoring thousands of San Francisco
children in kindergarten through third grade in local schools and in afterschool
programs throughout the city, from the Richmond district to the Tenderloin.
America Reads tutors make about $11 an hour, paid for by the Federal Work-Study
Program. Tutors complete a one-credit college course, learning various teaching
strategies and how to respond to students’ needs as a mentor.
Sean Tracy ’12 first joined the program his freshman year
because he needed a job, but the personal connections he made kept him
involved. “It wasn’t long before I wasn’t just a tutor anymore. The kids began
to look up to me in the classroom; would listen and do what I said,” said
Tracy, who graduated in May with a marketing degree.
Elementary school students who take part in America Reads
show strong improvement in reading, and their teachers say again and again how
much they appreciate the program and the work USFers are doing, said Kimberly
Harris, supervisor of USF’s America Reads program and assistant coordinator of
the Learning Center.
On top of improving kids’ reading, one-on-one tutoring
bolsters kids’ overall self-confidence—bringing them out of their shells in the
classroom, said Kelly Mills ’12, an international studies graduate who started
working with second graders at Dr. William L. Cobb Elementary and Preschool, part of the San Francisco Unified School District, during
her freshman year.
Because USF students tend to be drawn to community
involvement, it’s no surprise that America Reads has proved popular at the
university—with 50-60 students taking part each semester, Harris said.
“America Reads really empowers USF students to take on this
leadership/mentor role, providing them with an opportunity to become involved
and give back,” Harris said.