MSU student group tutors Lansing students of all ages
In the Lansing area, 20 percent of adults are functionally illiterate, according to data from a 2012 census survey gathered by thereadingpeople.org. Read to Succeed, a program run through MSU, is trying to find a way to combat the issue.
Student president of the MSU Student Literacy Corps Devin Simoncic said Read to Succeed’s mission is to recruit MSU student volunteers to tutor students in need in Lansing because they might not have access to the materials the volunteers can bring.
“The first goal is to raise awareness about the literacy rates in Michigan,” Simoncic said. “The second goal is to obviously go out there and try to do whatever we can to get these students comfortable with reading and writing, to get them enjoying it and overall to help them in their success.”
The students receive a test in the beginning of the semester that measures their literacy rate and reading level. At the end, they take the test again. Simoncic said the program gets great feedback and progress.
“With my last child I was working with, she did not like to write,” secondary education junior Hannah Safferman said. “But I got her writing and we wrote a really goofy story about a cow and chicken dancing in a restaurant ... she was laughing and it was really the first time she started laughing in front of me.”
The volunteers first learn how to tutor a child from a manual written by Lois Bader, the executive director of the Capital Area Literacy Coalition. After training, they are assigned to a student and help them with reading, writing and spelling twice a week. Though they typically work with elementary school students, Read to Succeed works with students of all age groups.
“One was an eighth grader and one was a ninth grader,” Simoncic said. “And every day they came in and they always wanted to do these spelling tests and try to beat each other and it was a lot of fun because they started as friends inside the program ... you could really see that they were there every time ready to learn. One kid had basketball every night, he came exhausted but still gave me 100 percent.”
As an education major, Safferman said she believes the program is not only valuable to her studies at MSU, but to all students of all majors who care about literacy and like working with children.
“You get to bond with a child and get to become very close to a child, which I think is very important,” Safferman said. “It makes you happy.”