True Life: Impacts Of N.D. Reading Corps

When you see a child’s eyes light up it touches you in a way that one can’t explain. This spark can come from excitement, accomplishment, joy and countless other emotions, but the point is that you’ve lifted their spirits and helped them feel alive in this moment.

Reading Corps brings about all of these emotions and creates confidence in students that will stay with them for their lifetime. Confidence that they can raise their hand and offer to read in front of the class, or grab a book before bedtime and tell their mother or father to curl up beside them as he or she shares their favorite story. These are the reasons people choose to become involved with the program.

This process is a journey for both the student and the AmeriCorps member. They grow together learning from one another how to understand and overcome different obstacles along the way. The end result is always something incredible and positive.

Take a moment to read some of these amazing stories our AmeriCorps members have shared with us.

“Our Reading Journey”
Annalee Ochoa

   When I first started the AmeriCorps program I was working part-time for about two months. I had been trying to get the children to enjoy reading with little success and I could only get their attention for such a sparse amount of time.
   The students really enjoyed playing with letter blocks so one day I pointed out to one of my students that one of the letters was in their name, but he insisted that blocks were for building towers and roads. I thought to myself, “This task could be more difficult than I originally thought.”
   Two weeks after I had implemented sign-in and interventions, students began recognizing some of the letters in their names and were excited to see their writing on the white board. Inclusively the boy who was adamant that blocks were towers and roads came in one morning with his parents in tow and smiles on their faces saying he had found all of the letters in his name on his parents Grand Cherokee!

 “Expression Matters!”
Becca Kourajian

One of the boys I tutored was very reluctant and had somewhat of a bad attitude when we started Reading Corps. He didn’t want to participate and was doing OK, but I knew he wasn’t trying his best.
   We tried multiple interventions, but he didn’t seem interested and wasn’t showing improvement. Then we decided to change to Repeated Reading and we really worked on his expression when he read. He didn’t want to read with expression, but I said, “There is no reason to be nervous or embarrassed to read with good expression, that is what makes reading fun!” It was like a one-eighty! Just like that he was a completely different person!
   I saw great improvement in his reading and all it took was a little push. After a little encouragement, his quality of reading greatly improved. I was surprised and so happy that I could, first-hand, watch him improve his reading by just changing his voice. He became interested and his attitude about reading has drastically changed as well. It is such a joy to hear him read so well and I am so proud that he is improving with a little of my help.

 “Confidence Boost”
Brandi Bitz

I started working with a 3rd grade girl who I could tell was a good reader but was very quiet and shy. The first week we barely spoke. My efforts to ask questions and get to know her were stunted with one-word answers.
   The next week our relationship grew little by little and by the third week she would volunteer information to me about her day without me having to ask. Interestingly, her progress monitoring graph mirrored this growth.
   My belief is that all she needed was a confidence boost! Our 20 minute daily sessions, compliments and building rapport gave her the confidence she needed to push her up to a grade level reader.

As you read for yourself, every child is different and so is each AmeriCorps member. Reading Corps challenges everyone involved, but they all finish stronger with a new outlook on their daily tasks. Each story shows the ability to overcome struggles and find a path that leads to success. You just have to continue exploring these paths until one proves to be your best route.

Reading Corps is currently looking for AmeriCorps members for the 2014-2015 school year that will be placed in schools in Fargo, Jamestown and West Fargo. If you are interested or know someone that might be, please share this information and visit our website at

North Dakota Reading Corps (NDRC) is a regional initiative that combines the people power of AmeriCorps with the science of how children learn to read. The goal is to help every child become a successful reader by the end of 3rd grade. NDRC is currently supported through a federal AmeriCorps grant, Fargo, Jamestown, and West Fargo school districts, the South East Education Cooperative, and the United Way of Cass-Clay.


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