Central Elementary is partnering with United Way and AmeriCorp to provide the first Reading Corps Worker at our elementary. This is great news for our kids! We will have one more person working directly with our students to bring about reading success. The program is patterned from the very successful Minnesota Reading Corps Program and will run as a United Way sponsored pilot program this year in Iowa. Central Elementary was fortunate enough to receive one of the grants!

AmeriCorp, often called the domestic Peace Corps, is a national service program that engages people in a yearlong commitment to service, meeting needs in their local communities. Since 1993, more than 400,000 individuals have served through AmeriCorps in the U.S. The Iowa Reading Corps is an initiative to help every Iowa child become a successful reader by the end of third grade.

Barb Mittman applied for the position, was interviewed and was selected to become our first Reading Corp worker at Central Elementary. She will serve our students K-3 in a one-on-one format. She will work with students we identify who do not receive special education but are in need of supplemental support to meet state reading standards. The Reading Corp is research-based literacy tutoring using very specific literacy interventions. Students will see Mrs. Mittman every day for 20 minutes a day. She will assess student progress and base tutoring on the individual needs of each child. She will serve between 15-18 students.

We know that research indicates that 74 percent of students who read poorly in third grade continue to read poorly in high school, making third grade reading proficiency a key predictor of high school success. We want to impact that statistic. We want to provide such a rigorous reading program that 100 percent of our students are reading proficiently by the time they leave third grade. We are continually exploring opportunities to offer our students that will get us to that goal. We believe that the AmeriCorp support is another stepping stone to achieve that result!

We would like to thank the United Way of Story County and AmeriCorp for providing this opportunity for our students. We are also appreciative of all of you who read to your children daily and who partner with us to give the precious gift of reading to each and every student at Central Elementary.

(Kathy Goecke is principal at Central Elementary School in Nevada.)