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AmeriCorps is recruiting tutors to help Central Coast students recover from pandemic learning loss

AmeriCorps Math Corps.jpg
AmeriCorps/MathCorps
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AmeriCorps, a national service organization, trains tutors to work with students during the school day in math and reading. Volunteers receive a monthly stipend and education grant.

As the new school year gets started, a recent report from the White House says kids across the country are about 2-4 months behind in learning due to pandemic disruptions.

The Biden administration is calling on citizens 18 and older to become math and reading tutors through AmeriCorps, a national service organization that trains volunteers to respond to a variety of needs around the country – in this case, education.

“AmeriCorps is essentially a domestic version of the Peace Corps. So, it’s all about giving back to communities in need,” Mike Spalsbury said.

Spalsbury is the California recruiter for AmeriCorps in Action (Ampact). He said AmeriCorps tutors serve socioeconomically disadvantaged students and students with other risk factors who might benefit from additional tutoring during the school day.

Spalsbury said tutors can help students to more quickly recover from months of learning loss experienced during the pandemic.

“We are looking for both reading and math; our heaviest focus right now is on math,” he said.

AmeriCorps is recruiting math tutors in grades 4 through 8 for several schools in Santa Barbara Unified School District. The district includes Title 1 schools serving disadvantaged students and is eligible for federally funded AmeriCorps assistance.

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Beth Thornton
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The Santa Barbara Unified School District Administration

Spalsbury said no previous experience is needed to become a tutor and it’s a great way for young people interested in teaching or senior citizens to help kids who have fallen behind.

“Our programs are set up to help kids become stronger learners by training everyday people to be effective tutors,” he said.

At Adams Elementary School in Santa Barbara, 57% of the student body is socioeconomically disadvantaged, and Principal Kelly Fresch said having an AmeriCorps tutor on campus makes a difference.

“We had 10 students last year in the area of reading, and every one of them made incredible growth,” Fresch said.

She says typically fewer people sign on to help with math than reading, but both subjects are needed to get students up to speed.

“In Santa Barbara, we have nine elementary schools, so we all would benefit from and hope to have, one reading and one math tutor,” she said.

AmeriCorps tutors receive a monthly stipend and an education grant for their work.

If you are interested in becoming an AmeriCorps tutor in Santa Barbara, you can find out more by going to Join.readingandmath.org.

Beth Thornton is a freelance reporter for KCBX, and a contributor to Issues & Ideas. She was a 2021 Data Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism.