This Week at READ USA

Literacy Tutoring

WATCH: “It can change your life.” – READ USA Teen Tutor

  • Read USA Inc.
  • August 16 2023


Tomorrow – Thursday, August 17 – is National Nonprofit Day! We appreciate the Florida Times-Union for running this fantastic guest column from Ed Salek, a local CPA, about how community members and the business community can support nonprofit organizations. And we couldn’t agree more!

We have two great ways that you can support READ USA this week: share our need for teen tutors and help us fill six AmeriCorps VISTA positions! Check them out in today’s newsletter below.

Countless teen tutors tell READ USA every year that being a tutor in our Literacy Tutoring program “can change your life” while helping a young child improve their literacy skills and educational future.

Watch two of our amazing teen tutors discuss how tutoring has impacted their lives in the short video below – and please “share” this video to help spread the word about READ USA’s need for teen tutors for this fall’s tutoring season!

                                 tutoring video link

It is our teen tutors who are making a tangible impact on young lives in our community! Being a teen tutor in READ USA’s Literacy Tutoring program provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to improve the lives of young children who are struggling to read.

READ USA is seeking teens or college students who:

  • Can work from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
  • Live or attend school in the general areas of Arlington, Springfield, and Northwest Jacksonville (tutoring will occur primarily in these parts of town this fall, but we’ll certainly accept students from other parts of town, too!).
  • Has flexible hours or dual enrollment (college students from Edward Waters, Jacksonville University, or FSCJ Downtown can be ideal candidates).

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How Literacy Tutoring Works:

Teen tutors use pre-written lesson plans to deliver high-quality reading lessons to help elementary students improve their literacy skills. READ USA provides extensive training, onboarding, on-site support, and resources to teen tutors. Tutors have one-on-one access to supervising teachers during all tutoring sessions, who oversee, coach, and guide tutors in lesson delivery.

Teen Tutors Can Expect:

  • $15/hour for 9-12 hours of work per week.
  • Transportation (if needed) to and from the selected elementary school.
  • To participate in a mandatory two-day onboarding and training session – dates TBA (tutors are paid for the training session).
To pass a national Level II background check, reading screener, and drug screen.

READ to Heal Award Honoree: Nicole Thomas, President, Baptist Health

READ USA is honored to feature our 2023 Peace in the Pages READ to Heal Award Honoree, Mrs. Nicole Thomas, President of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville!

nicole thomas_PITP23Throughout her career, Mrs. Thomas has been passionate about health, healing, and education. In her current role as President of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, she is responsible for the operational and strategic direction of the largest hospital in the Baptist Health system. A Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE), she joined Baptist Health in 2011 and in 2016 was named Baptist Medical Center South’s president, becoming the first female and first African American to lead a hospital in Baptist Health’s history. Through the years, she has held several system roles at Baptist Health, including having primary executive responsibility for the formation of the Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2015.

During her youth, reading was emphasized and encouraged at every opportunity, a skill that Mrs. Thomas has leveraged throughout her career.

“I loved school so much that I held my own private summer school, spreading out my books and treating them like my students,” she recalls. “Because books played such an important role in my life growing up, I continue to use them as vital tools in my profession,” noting that she gives two impactful books to new members of her team at Baptist Health: Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler, and Power of Moments by Heath and Heath. Both of these books promote better understanding and positive interaction between team members and, to further emphasize the power of the written word, President Thomas holds an annual “Book Club” for her leadership team. Her last book club featured Change the Culture, Change the Game by Connors and Smith.

Mrs. Thomas is an avid reader leader who uses books to encourage and heal working relationships and thus, strengthen the good work done for our community at Baptist Health – and READ USA is immensely grateful to have her support! “I’m honored to be chosen for this recognition by READ USA,” she said, “and I want to convey my congratulations to READ USA for the huge impact you are having on the lives of children.”

Read more about Mrs. Thomas here.

Also, you can read more about our 2023 Peace in the Pages event, which will take place on Sept. 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at TIAA Bank Field, here.

Donors who support READ USA at $1,000 a year or more receive several benefits, including seats at Peace in the Pages. You can become a READ USA donor today by clicking here.

Recruiting VISTA Service Members

The positions we are seeking to fill will help READ USA grow and expand to improve the lives of even more children and teens in our community.

Plus, AmeriCorps VISTA service members receive a living allowance, an education award, professional development training and support, and healthcare benefits.

  • Development Associate will support the sustainability of READ USA through partnership building with private funders and other development activities.
  • Logistics and Scaling Associate will provide logistical support to the READ USA Literacy Tutoring program and support expansion.
  • Grant and Proposal Writing Associate will seek out and apply for grant opportunities while helping maintain positive relationships with funders and stakeholders.
  • External Communications Associate will help enhance external communications by collaborating with the communications team to identify and pursue opportunities to creatively develop digital and printed content.
  • Volunteer Recruitment Associate will help develop and implement a comprehensive volunteer recruitment and management process.
  • Tutor Recruitment Associate will help develop and implement a comprehensive teen tutor recruitment and management process.
Interested to learn more? Visit the Apply section of our website:


Children’s Book: Maybe, by Kobi Yamada

Illustrated by Gabriella Barouch Maybe_L

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the author. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. Maybe, encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. This book encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy – they will make messes and mistakes – but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures.

Written by New York Times best-selling author Kobi Yamada, this is a story for everything you will do and everything you can be. It’s a story about all the possibilities ahead of you. It’s for who you are right now and it’s for all the magical, unbounded potential you hold inside. With its beautiful visual storytelling and timeless message, Maybe is an inspiring story for kids of all ages.

Submitted by Kathi Hart, Tutoring Program Content Specialist

Parent Education Corner: Supporting Reading Skills at Home

Learning to read is a vital skill. A child’s literacy success or failure can affect his or her life for decades. Research shows that compared to proficient readers, students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma.

One of the most important roles that parents can play in their child’s education is supporting and nurturing their child’s reading abilities and love of reading.

An activity you can do with your child is having conversations before, during, and after reading together. (These activities are typically appropriate for children in kindergarten through third grade.) Having conversations when reading with children helps them develop higher-level thinking and language skills, such as predicting and problem solving.

While reading books aloud, ask the child questions and talk about the content of the story before, during and after reading:

  • Use open-ended questions to ask the child to think about the book’s messages and what is happening.
  • Ask the child to apply the book’s messages to the world around him or her by connecting events to his or her own life.
  • Ask more and more complex questions, so the child continues to build his or her vocabulary and language skills.

Example questions for nonfiction books:

  • Why do birds fly south for winter?
  • What would happen if you planted a tree in the desert?
  • Why is it important to recycle?

Example questions for fiction books:

  • Why did the character do what he did?
  • What else could he have done?
  • If you were in that story, what would you have done?



 From The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences and The What Works Clearinghouse.

 Submitted by Kathi Hart, Tutoring Program 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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