MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A program to help kids with reading and math is seeing a shortage of tutors this year.

Minnesota’s Reading and Math Corps is looking to fill a few hundred more openings to help students in schools across the state. Tutors within the program will help 35,000 students in Minnesota improve their reading and math skills.

“Our program meets a need, kind of in the middle. Our tutors helps students who wouldn’t otherwise get services from outside the normal classroom,” said Sara Nobbs of Minnesota Reading and Math Corps.

Leading into the 2017-2018 school year, the Reading and Math Corps was facing the largest shortage of tutors in 14 years. To date, 1,200 tutors are now in Minnesota schools, but 500 more tutors are still needed.

“I really think part of it is we’re a really well-kept secret. We don’t want to be. We want everyone to know about our program and know we’re in schools across the state,” Nobbs said.

At 72 years old, Bob Mowatt is one of the Reading Corps tutors at Hillcrest Community School in Bloomington. As a part-time tutor, Bob spends every day, for five hours a day, helping kids reach their literacy goals.

“They’re so excited about being successful and that makes me feel good,” said Mowatt, a Reading Corps tutor.

“I can now understand, like, everything and it’s not as confusing anymore,” said Hope, a student at Hillcrest Community School.

“Now, I can read more clearly and I can read larger words and stuff,” said Sophia, a student at Hillcrest Community School.

Bob knows that struggle of learning to read all too well. Five years ago, a stroke took his ability to read. He spent nine months re-learning how to read and he now brings that understanding to his tutoring sessions.

“I really became aware of how much we depend upon written communication to know what’s going on and how we’re supposed to do things and run our lives. It was frustrating not to be able to do that,” Mowatt said. “I think that gave me a lot of empathy for kids who are struggling with learning how to read.”

Seeing his students overcome their challenges inspires Bob to keep working on his own skills.

“I still can’t read at the level before the stroke,” Mowatt said. “I was doing technical writing and technical reading and research.”

The Reading Corps program was developed to help pre-K through third graders, yet even a retiree can take away an important lesson.

“If they can grow and continue to get better, so can I,” Mowatt said.

There is a stipend for anyone who signs up to become a tutor.


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