Reads & Counts Connects Aggie Students with Struggling School Children

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: November 12, 2009

Paige Melancon enrolled at Texas A&M University intending to become a doctor. A tutoring job through the Read & Counts program made her think twice about her career path.

"My mom has been a kindergarten teacher for more than 23 years, and I always said I wasn't going to be a teacher," she says. "I started as a biology major and got a job with Reads & Counts. My mom said, ‘Maybe this is God's way of telling you to be a teacher.'"

Paige, now a junior education major, works as a tutor and assistant location coordinator at Forest Ridge Elementary School for Reads & Counts, which puts Texas A&M students in local classrooms and after-school programs to help public school children with math and reading.

A work-study program run through the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture, Reads & Counts employs 169 students from across the university. These students serve in 17 community schools and three after-school programs, including the Neal Rec Center, the Lincoln Center, and the Boys and Girls Club.

Katie Rhodes, a junior education major and location coordinator at Crockett Elementary, tries to make learning fun for her students by offering stickers for a job well done.

"Many of these students hate school because they are not doing well, and they need the extra help. Getting them to enjoy working with you can be challenging," she says.

Teachers direct the Reads & Counts tutors on which students to work with and which area they should concentrate. They also sometimes ask the tutors to pair up with students who are ahead and need a little one-on-one time.

Having the Reads & Counts tutors available is an asset to teachers who might not have enough time to give struggling students individual attention while providing general classroom instruction.

In addition to the challenges, tutors also share in their students' successes—large and small.

"I have one student that I'm working with," Paige says, "and she likes to sing her ABCs. We're working on saying them and not singing L-M-N-O-P because she thinks N is M."

"Last year, I worked with a student who was probably on the border of needing to be in a bilingual classroom," says Drew Collier, a senior accounting and supply chain management major who serves in Reads & Counts. "Understandably, he was struggling with his reading fluency and comprehension. His teacher told me that because of my working with him, sometimes several hours each day, his reading comprehension jumped 450 percent, and by the end of the year, he was reading above level."

"Because of our unique position in the schools, we are the student's teacher, mentor, champion, encourager and role model," he adds.

Reads & Counts not only helps send work-study students to college and provides them with valuable work experience, but it makes a difference in the lives of local school children along the way.