This Week at READ USA

Literacy Tutoring

Introducing READ USA’s AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders!

  • Read USA Inc.
  • October 18 2023


On Monday, we had the privilege and honor to induct our first group of AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders! These exceptional individuals are embarking upon something very special with READ USA.


We are immensely grateful to AmeriCorps for this opportunity to diversify READ USA’s funding and provide enhanced workforce development training to teen tutors. Plus, as a national organization, AmeriCorps is the perfect partner to grow with us as we scale our Literacy Tutoring program to reach more students and teens in more communities!

AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders’ day-to-day tutoring in READ USA’s Literacy Tutoring program is similar to other READ USA Tutors: they work alongside students in elementary schools across Duval County to improve grade-level reading proficiency and help spark joy and passion for reading in children.

However, as AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders, these exceptional teens will receive intensive additional training specifically tailored to working with children in our community with the most critical needs. On top of READ USA’s robust workforce development training, AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders receive training in citizenship (what it means to ‘give back’ and serve our communities), disaster preparation and response, CPR and first aid, and other areas. The purpose is to more fully prepare AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders for the workforce, while also providing them with the benefits of being an AmeriCorps service member: educational stipend, living allowances (on top of READ USA’s $15/hour wage), and participation in ongoing professional development trainings, among others.

IMG_4105_largeYesterday’s induction ceremony was just the start of what will be an exceptional learning adventure for our AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders! We were so grateful to be joined by The Honorable Dr. Kelly Coker, DCPS School Board Chair, and Scott Schneider, DCPS Chief of Schools, who both delivered powerful messages to our AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders. We are also thankful to Paula Renfro, DCPS Chief Academic Officer, for attending alongside DCPS Arlington Elementary Principal Paula Findlay. And finally, many thanks to Kristin Talcott of Volunteer Florida for participating in our “Apron Ceremony” where we officially welcomed these tutors into the AmeriCorps Tutor Leader program!

Check out photos from Monday’s event on our Facebook page here – and please share!

READ USA looks forward to sharing much more about our AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders’ journey during the coming months. Stay tuned!



READ USA Participates in The Community Foundation’s Nonprofit Partner Listening Session

Last week, our Chief Programs Officer Tabetha Cox participated in The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida’s Nonprofit Partner Listening session, representing our organization and the students and teens we serve across Duval County! READ USA is grateful and honored to attend alongside our nonprofit peers.

At the event, nonprofit partners from across the community met with The Community Foundation’s new President, Isaiah M. Oliver, to learn more about his background and share the important work we all do. Mr. Oliver arrived from Flint, Michigan to join The Community Foundation and the Jacksonville community last month, and he has already hit the ground running! You can read more about Mr. Oliver here.


Tabetha also participated in a breakout session with other education-focused nonprofit organizations to discuss what’s working in our education system, the challenges we are facing as organizations, schools, and a community, and our own work.

“Our group focused on our ‘why’ and how we’re boots-on-the-ground types of organizations since we are IN schools on a daily basis, and see the needs first-hand,” said Tabetha. “It was wonderful to hear Mr. Oliver’s background and his own ‘why’ behind his passion for his work, and to receive his acknowledgement of the fact that our city’s education nonprofits truly have our ears on the ground and are well-versed in the issues our students are facing.”

Many thanks to The Community Foundation team for hosting this wonderful event! We also want to extend a particular thank you to Mr. Oliver for sharing his time and to Kathleen Shaw and Wanda Willis with The Community Foundation for leading the discussion.


Children’s Book: My Principal is a Superhero, by Joey and Melanie Acker

Illustrated by Joey Ackermyprincipalis_large

This delightful picture book is dedicated to all principals and assistant principals who wear superhero capes every day. My Principal is a Superhero is the fourth book in The Wonder Who Crew Series. Mr. Clarkson is the main character in the story and his students are trying to decide whether he is a super principal or a superhero. Throughout the story the students identify characteristics that Mr. Clarkson exhibits every day. The students believe that Mr. Clarkson might be a superhero because he has super strengths.

Mr. Clarkson is hailed to be a superhero by all the teachers at his school because he always saves the school day. From his voice that echoes throughout the school on the intercom to his eyes that see everything that is happening. Every superhero has a sidekick, and the assistant principals are just that. Assistant principals are crucial in the day-to-day functions of the school day.

My Principal is a Superhero is an excellent read-a-aloud. It outlines the daily activities of principals that are often overlooked. This story recognizes the incredible impact principals have on students. After all, the key to a student’s success starts with a great principal. Is Mr. Clarkson a superhero or a super principal? Read this enjoyable story, and you decide.

Submitted by Dr. Barbara Lacey-Allen, Book Programs & Family Engagement Director


Parent Education Corner: 4 Tips to Help Children Understand What They Read

What helps children understand what they read? Being an active reader is key. That means focusing on the text, questioning the text, and taking mental notes. You can work with these skills with your child at home.

Use these four tips to help improve your child’s reading comprehension.

1. Make connections.

When children connect what they already know to what they read, it helps them focus. Show your child how to make connections when you read aloud. If a book mentions places you’ve been with your child, talk about those memories. Then have your child give it a try.
2. Ask questions.
Asking questions encourages children to look for clues in the text. When you read together, ask questions to spark your child’s curiosity. Ask things like, “What do you think will happen?” or “How is that character feeling?”

3. Make “mind movies.”
Visualizing helps bring a story to life. That’s where mind movies come in. When you read with your child, describe what the scene looked like in your head. Talk about how it makes you feel. Then invite your child to make a mind movie too. Point out how your child’s movie may be different from yours. If your child likes to draw, encourage your child to create a picture of the scene, too.

4. Figure out what’s important.

Ask your child: Who are the main characters? What’s the most important thing that has happened in the story so far? What problem are the characters trying to solve? When children can point out what’s important, they’re more likely to understand what they read.

From: Osewalt, Ginny. “7 tips to help kids understand what they read.”

Submitted by Kathi Hart, Content Specialist


Do you have any questions or ideas for the Parent Education Corner? Anything you’d like to learn? Let us know here!

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