Future Teacher Influences Children through America Reads
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.—Jessica Sachs, a student in the College of Education’s Childhood and Early Adolescent Education major, furthered her one-on-one teaching skills while working as a learning support aide this summer at Ringing Rocks Elementary School in Pottsgrove, Pennsylvania, through the America Reads program.
America Reads, part of the Federal Work-Study Program, is a national literacy campaign started in 1996 by the Clinton Administration that provides part-time employment to help college students finance the costs of postsecondary education. The college students work to give children extra help in literacy.
Sachs assisted as a learning support aide during the first part of her term from mid-May to June while regular school was in session for a second-grade student who worked best in a one-on-one situation.
“A typical day consisted of me accompanying my student to encore classes such as art, gym and music, as well as working through educational material in the classroom,” Sachs said. “I came up with some short activities to do with the student to gauge his interest.”
Sachs said her student faced many challenges, so it was most rewarding when she successfully communicated with him to act appropriately and complete his work.
“I became more familiar with behavior plans, reward systems, redirecting behavior as well as creating and adapting lessons for a particular student,” Sachs said. “I felt that I became more understanding and empathetic of the many factors that can affect students in their schooling.”
Throughout July, Sachs supported the school with their summer reading program in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. Sachs learned strategies, such as the phonics program called Fundations, to teach letter recognition, sounds, reading and writing to young children.
“The class typically has magnets for the white board, which [students] use to create words and practice sounds,” Sachs said. “For younger grades, teachers have large cards that feature a letter, a picture of something starting with that letter and the phonetic breakdown—all of which the teacher models and allows the students to echo.”
In addition to gaining beneficial experience as a future educator, Sachs said she found a personal satisfaction watching her students learn and grow.
Currently, Sachs is completing her pre-service student teaching requirements at Moshannon Valley Elementary School in Houtzdale, Pennsylvania. There she is spending the full school day in a kindergarten classroom two days per week. Upon graduation, she says she hopes to get a job as an elementary school teacher and eventually earn her master’s degree in counselor education to become a middle- or high-school counselor.
By Samantha Schwartz (October 2014)