Melissa is starting her second term in AmeriCorps Mentors for Success with Reading and Math Corps. She has been in the education field for almost twenty years and today uses her passion for education and social and emotional learning to help students from preschool to high school. Melissa shares an unforgettable moment with her mentee during graduation season.
I joined AmeriCorps in September 2022 after my friend told me about her service experience. I was inspired to join and contribute to my community in a meaningful way. When I learned about serving as a school-based mentor with the Ohio Reading Corps program at Serve Ohio, a program that provides provide school-based mentoring to students in need of social and emotional learning support in grades 5-12, I felt it would be a wonderful fit for me and a way I could make a difference in my community. Being a mentor is a rewarding experience as I’ve had the opportunity to see others succeed and know that I’ve helped play a supporting role in their lives.
As I start my second AmeriCorps term, I reflect on how important the Ohio Reading Corps is for my mentees and our community, too. In addition to providing school-based mentoring to students in need of social and emotional learning support in grades 5-12, the program also provides tutoring service to students in grades K-5 who need academic support. Being able to provide one-on-one and small-group support has helped students immensely. The students feel motivated to succeed when they know that they have someone dedicated to helping them achieve their goals. This support is so powerful, especially today as we recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve seen how AmeriCorps members help students grow academically and score considerably higher on tests after working with them. Of the students I work with, the majority were struggling to feel connected to the school. But having the extra support for students to improve their math, reading, and social-emotional skills has proven beneficial for our students to get back on track. I learned that helping students build community, connections, and a sense of belonging are an integral reason why we see higher academic achievement. These connections not only make a difference in the students’ lives – it also leaves an impact on service members like me.
During my initial site visit, I met one of my first mentees, Savannah. She was very welcoming and would always stop in to greet me during my first few days of service. Those few days became a norm, and we bonded over our shared passion for early childhood education. With my background as a former preschool teacher and childcare administrator, I was able to offer Savannah valuable insights and support, creating a safe and non-judgmental environment where she could openly discuss her future plans and life experiences. Savannah and I worked together on multiple areas and skills to reach her goals. It was a great joy to see Savannah use her newly acquired skills to make connections in her own life and successfully achieve her objectives. As a mentor, it was a rewarding experience.
As Savannah's graduation approached, she asked me to present her diploma at the ceremony which was an honor that I will always cherish.
This was a monumental moment for Savannah, and I looked forward to watching her cross the field to accept her diploma. But I felt even prouder to present her with it and see her start a new life chapter after all she had overcome to accomplish this goal.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to help students. Through the Ohio Reading Corps program, I work with amazing individuals and help others learn to achieve their goals while sharing knowledge and experience with them. I am honored and fortunate to be part of this journey. AmeriCorps provides a vast range of support and assistance to communities, making service truly indispensable to the nation.
Learn how you can answer President Biden’s call for 250,000 more tutors and mentors to accelerate student recovery and success with National Partnership for Student Success.