Allegheny students volunteer at local public school to promote literacy and fluency

By ALEX HOLMES

Features Editor

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Allegheny College has teamed up with Partners in Education to promote education and social development among college students and local schools.

Erin O’Day, AmeriCorps VISTA project coordinator for Erie and Crawford Counties, discussed Partners in Education’s mission.

“[It is] a mutually trusting and respecting partnership among Crawford Central School District, Allegheny College, non-profit organizations, community members and resources which promotes education, ethics and social development for all learners and families with a focus on those most at-risk,” said O’Day.

The Operation READ program started in January 2013 as a pilot program and is currently coordinated by Richard Peterson, an AmeriCorps VISTA member. The program was designed to improve literacy proficiency levels in elementary school students.

Kurt Meader, principal at Second District Elementary School, believes that Allegheny students act as positive role models for the children..

“It is good to have the collaboration between the Allegheny campus and the community,” said Meader. “Our students get the help they need, and the young children have positive role models.”

In addition to the student tutors, faculty and teachers are designing lessons to increase proficiency.

“These students are following schedules of activities designed by literacy coaches [district teachers] to increase fluency,” O’Day said. “Beyond improving literacy, tutors are building close relationships with the students.”

Allegheny student and Operation READ worker Emily Cronizer,’17, has had a positive experience while working for the program.

“They’re a great group of kids,” said Cronizer. “They’re absolutely hilarious and with the right amount of motivation and a little push they work really hard and reach their full potential. It’s been a great experience working with them.”

Cronzier also said that the program has helped her become a better tutor and mentor.

“All of the employees are super nice and I’ve learned a lot not just from teaching in the classroom, but from the other tutors,” she said. “Seeing how they work with their own kids has helped me improve as a tutor.”

Tutors help the students by working to increase fluency, speed and accuracy. By improving these skills, the amount that students are able to comprehend increases as well, according to Meader.

“We do assessment at the beginning, middle and end of the year,” Meader said. “From the beginning of the year to the middle, fifty percent of our students rose up to the next category [from basic to proficient].”