In the months leading up to her college graduation, Diana Martin sketched a mental blueprint for her future. Her past volunteer work as a summer camp assistant, tutor, and soccer coach all added up to one thing—educating children must be part of that future. And the AmeriCorps program, Diana decided, would help her reach that goal.
“Kids have always been a big part of my life,” Diana said. “I thought AmeriCorps would be a great opportunity to use the skills I already had while developing quite a few more.”
As an AmeriCorps member with the national literacy program Reading Partners, Diana merges her passion for the field of education with her experience working with children. AmeriCorps members like Diana provide tutoring support and recruit and train local community volunteers. In her position as a site coordinator in a California elementary school, Diana trains volunteers on the best ways to tutor and read to a student.
“I try to make them as comfortable as possible so they are confident when they are working with their students,” she said.
Experts agree that tutoring is one of the best strategies to help curb the student achievement gap. That is why Reading Partners’ one-on-one reading model has been so successful, said Shannon Bryant, the program’s director of community engagement.
“It’s not just about the one-on-one relationship. It’s about being able to meet with people who are like-minded,” Shannon said. “Our AmeriCorps members transfer their sense of passion and mission onto our volunteers which in turn impacts student success.”
During the most recent program year, Reading Partners served more than 5,000 students and recruited more than 5,000 volunteers. At the John Gill Elementary School where Diana serves, 92 percent of all enrolled students accelerated their rate of learning and 72 percent of all enrolled students were reading at grade level by the end of the 2012-2013 academic year.
For Diana, who is in her second term of service with AmeriCorps, the best part is being a witness to change.
“You can see it in the students’ work—in their attitude. I can see it in the smiles on their faces,” she said. “It’s such a good feeling to see the progress that students are making and know that these tutors—this program is really making a difference.”
The Corporation for National and Community Service is celebrating the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps and highlighting the theme of education during the month of February. For more information about the 20th anniversary, please visit the AmeriCorps 20th Anniversary portal.