Bemidji Schools Still Need Literacy Tutors
After retirement, some people think about how they’ll spend their time. Elsa Znajda decided to spend her retirement helping young students become stronger readers as a tutor with the Minnesota Reading Corps.
“They are just like sponges – they just take it all in, and it’s so exciting to see them grow and learn to read and be fluent and they comprehend what they are reading,” said Znajda.
The goal for Minnesota Reading & Math Corps is to ensure all students are up to grade level in reading by the end of third grade and proficient in algebra by the end of eighth grade.
“Here in Bemidji, we are in every single elementary school, and then we have Math Corps at our Bemidji Middle School,” said Minnesota Reading & Math Corps Program Manager Katelyn Dokken. “We place about 10-11 Reading & Math Corps tutors every year in the Bemidji School district.”
Znajda currently works at Horace May Elementary in Bemidji and is in her fifth year of service with Reading Corps. She says she never set out a goal to log nearly 5,000 national community service hours, but it just happened. Her dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I got a nice letter from President Barack Obama and I got a beautiful pin that I wear on my coat,” said Znajda. “It took my by surprise, I never realized, it’s so easy to get those hours.”
Born in Argentina, Znajda knows the struggles one can have with learning a new language.
“When I came, they didn’t have English learning classes,” said Znajda. “You just sat in your class and you learned that way.”
It was through Reading Corps where Znajda crossed paths with Bradi Kirkpatrick, who was a reading tutor at the time. Kirkpatrick’s daughter, Chloe, was having her own struggles.
“The thing still with my daughter is she doesn’t want to bring her homework home,” said Kirkpatrick. “She wants to do her homework at school.”
With the help from Znajda, Kirkpatrick has seen a complete turnaround in Chloe’s reading.
“Chloe loves Elsa and my family is very appreciative of what she did for Chloe and built her self-esteem,” said Kirkpatrick. “She is an avid reader now. She’s nowhere without three books.”
Across the state Minnesota Reading and Math Corps tutors work with about 30,000 students a year. On the elementary level tutors work with students for 20 minutes. A little reading can go a long way.
For more information on Minnesota Reading and Math Corps visit their website.