"America Reads/America Counts" Tutor Program
Amherst College participates in the federal government's "America Reads Challenge," a nation-wide program designed to employ college students "as reading tutors for children to help insure that all children will read independently and on grade level by third grade". America Reads also provides reading tutors for adults who participate in authorized family literacy programs, whose children are receiving tutoring through the America Reads program.
As part of a Five College cooperative effort, Amherst College has been reaching out to area schools and eligible agencies to assist students in reading tutor positions. Amherst students are also encouraged to seek their own tutoring experiences in agencies or schools that meet the criteria for the America Reads program. Schools and programs that might qualify include those that serve children of pre-school age through grade six and family literacy programs where participating adults have children who are also receiving tutoring under the program. A number of students have already been placed in Amherst and many neighboring communities since the program began in 1997.
Beginning with the 1999-2000 academic year, the "America Counts" program provides funding for tutors in math for children up to the ninth grade. Schools and programs that might qualify include those that serve pre-school through grade nine.
Eligibility for the America Reads/America Counts Program
Financial aid recipients with Federal Work-Study in their awards are eligible to participate in and be paid for their work in this worthwhile and rewarding program. You do not need to be receiving financial aid to be a tutor. Volunteers are encouraged to participate in the program. Any student is welcomed to orientation and extended training sessions. However, in order to be in a paid position, you must have been awarded Federal Work-Study. You do not need to have any prior working experience as a tutor or with children in order to participate. Tutors are paid $9.00 per hour for new tutors and up to $9.50 for returning tutors. The student's wages are covered 100% by federal funds. The tutoring is, therefore, cost-free to the participating agency or school.
General orientation training sessions for America Reads are one and a half hours long, paid, and designed to educate students on the America Reads objective as well as reasonable exceptions of them as tutors out in the community. Attendance for one of these sessions is mandatory. Registration for the orientation session and the mandatory, paid, extended training session is done online through the Five College America Reads homepage.
Students interested in working with adults through the family literacy component should attend the initial mandatory orientation session. Specific training for tutoring adults will be available through one of the authorized family literacy sites.
Training for America Counts will be conducted by site supervisors at the school or program sites.
If you were an America Reads tutor last year and completed an orientation and extended training session, you are not required to attend additional training sessions unless you choose to do so. You are, however, encouraged to participate in the reflection sessions held later in the semester.
America Reads and America Counts tutors must complete an Off-Campus Federal Work-Study Application with the Office of Financial Aid, B-5 Converse Hall. You must check that you are applying for an America Reads or America Counts tutor position. After the application is completed and returned to the OFA, a contract will be forwarded to the eligible school or agency. Once the contract has been signed and returned to the OFA, the tutor will receive time sheets and can begin to be paid. Time sheets for hours spent tutoring are signed by on-site supervisors and submitted to the Comptroller's Office for processing.
In order to be paid for time spent in the initial orientation session, extended training sessions, time sheets must be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid for signature. A student may begin working before all the paperwork has been completed if he/she has been authorized by the Student Employment Coordinator, but cannot receive any paychecks until all paperwork has been completed. Money earned as an America Reads or America Counts tutor counts towards your authorized term-time Work-Study earning eligibility. Any questions regarding the application process should be addressed to the Office of Financial Aid, B-5 Converse Hall, extension 2781 (on campus).
Your Responsibilities as a Tutor
Please remember that while working in the community, you are representing Amherst College. The agency or school you work for is relying upon you. You are serving the community's children, and your work is very important. Do not consider becoming an America Reads or America Counts tutor unless you are willing to commit yourself to the program, its goals and the children or adults you are serving. In your role as a tutor, you will gain valuable experience, perform a valuable service to the community and help a child or adult learn to read, or help a child learn math skills. You are still subject to the same guidelines and rules you would be if you were working on campus.
What to Do
Please think seriously about your schedule and other obligations before applying for a position. If you are interested in an America Reads or America Counts tutoring position, apply for the position directly with the school or agency contact listed. Inform the Student Employment Coordinator immediately upon obtaining a position. If you have any questions about your eligibility for the program, check your status in the Office of Financial Aid. You must have Federal Work-Study in your aid package to become a paid America Reads or America Counts tutor. We hope you will join Amherst in supporting the federal commitment to education and the future of America's youth.
To see a list of sites that have posted America Reads tutor positions, you can refer to the Five College America Reads homepage. For information about America Counts sites contact the Office of Financial Aid.