America Reads is a federally funded work-study program that places college and university students in the community to tutor elementary through high school students in literacy and math.
The program grew from the America Reads Challenge, a major 1997 initiative of the Clinton administration that sought to mobilize a grassroots force of over a million volunteers to tutor elementary school children.
Its goal was to help ensure that all children in America could read well and independently by the end of 3rd grade. Today, approximately 1200 institutions of higher learning participate in America Reads nationwide. At the University of Virginia, America Reads tutors work in local schools and on Grounds with the McGuffey Reading Center's community programs.
Only full-time University of Virginia students who have been awarded federal work-study can be hired as America Reads tutors in the University of Virginia’s America Reads program. Hiring occurs in the first few weeks of the fall and spring semesters. Interested students should apply initially on Handshake (https://virginia.joinhandshake.com) and will be contacted by the America Reads Coordinator early in the fall and spring semesters. The America Reads online application form is completed before hiring and submitted to the America Reads Coordinator during personal interviews. It should not be submitted until that time.
School-based Tutoring Placements
America Reads Tutors are placed in local public schools to provide tutoring in reading and math for students from Pre-K through high school. Tutors may work with students one-on-one or in small groups, or they may provide assistance as needed in a whole-group situation. A coordinating teacher supervises the America Reads tutors by providing lesson plans, direct support, coaching and training. This placement can include after-school tutoring.
McGuffey Reading Center
The McGuffey Reading Center provides after-school literacy tutoring two days a week on Grounds. The Center also engages in partnerships with some area schools, providing twice-weekly tutoring in literacy at the schools. These are one-on-one tutoring programs. Tutors are supported by McGuffey clinicians and graduate students who provide training, lesson plans, and coaching.
Graduate students with school-based teaching experience may be invited to work as tutor mentors at the McGuffey Reading Center or a public school. Responsibilities of a tutor mentor may include writing lesson plans and mentoring University students in their jobs as tutors of school-aged children. Tutor mentor positions are offered based on experience and the requirements of the assignment.
There is no minimum number of hours that America Reads tutors must work each week. Most tutors work at least 5 hours each week. Tutors may work up to 20 hours a week while the University is in session. Tutors may work 40 hours a week when the University is not in session (during official University vacations).
Most tutoring occurs Mondays through Fridays between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., during and after school. No weekend or summer hours are available.
Tutors are matched with assignments based on the tutor’s availability, teacher requests, and transportation considerations. The America Reads application asks prospective tutors to indicate the blocks of time they are available.
America Reads tutors join the ranks of a group of UVa students with a stellar reputation in our local schools. Teachers ask for America Reads tutors year after year because they see the impact the tutors make on their students and classroom communities. America Reads tutors make a difference for our children, our community and our schools.
America Reads tutors love what they do. They not only find their work rewarding, but they have fun! Several tutors have found their experiences so inspiring they have chosen to pursue careers in education!
What do America Reads tutors have to say?
With the exception of my time as a student teaching intern, I was an America Reads tutor throughout my two years at the School of Education and Human Development. Out of everything I've done at the School, being a tutor was the single most rewarding, joyful experience. Nothing compares to working with a struggling reader for months on end and sitting beside him in tears as he reads Bears on Wheels, for the first time without your help. If you want to smile more and make a difference while doing it, become an America Reads tutor. - Chelsea
America Reads has allowed me to engage with the education community of Charlottesville in a beneficial, sustainable manner unlike many other University-affiliated community outreach organizations. The close ties I have developed with teachers and students has provided me with an outlet outside of the University bubble while affording me a unique perspective of the local community. I’ve been able to earn the finances I need for school in a very rewarding way which not only supports the students with whom I work, but also builds my own capabilities as a leader and a guide. I love America Reads! - Lee
I don’t feel like I’m working a job. My journey as a tutor with Buford Middle’s diverse group of ESL students has strengthened both my communication skills and my students’ academic skills. Most importantly, our time together builds a relationship where we learn from each other, and appreciate our cultural differences. I see one student from Honduras learning to say “Jambo” and other small phrases from a Congolese student. I see how one El Salvadoran student learns some dance moves from a Nepali student. And I love that I get to see the interchange and inter-appreciation for multiculturalism, on top of being able to help each of them strive as they steadily acquire English fluency. Being present as the students’ tutor, friend, and sometimes even mentor, is a treasure. - Tania
Being part of America Reads is an incredibly fulfilling experience for so many reasons. Fostering a relationship with these wonderful kids has been just as worthwhile as seeing them make huge strides in their reading. Not only have I been able to see progress in my students’ reading abilities, but I’ve seen these students’ confidence and self-assuredness increase as well. The process of sharing time together with these young students and encouraging a love for reading with them is something I’ll always remember fondly. - Allie
Tutoring students through the America Reads work-study program has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had during my time at the University of Virginia. As college students, we may easily forget about the larger community in which our university community is nestled. As an America Reads tutor, I have seen first-hand the need for our help and the impact we make as tutors in the greater Charlottesville community. During my time as a tutor, I have worked with a wide range of students, each with their own unique backstories and academic needs. They’ve included students who are refugees, students with learning disabilities, students who have mastered the topic at hand, and those who need a helping hand in doing so. Furthermore, the teachers I have had the privilege of working with have been incredibly helpful and their passion to see their students succeed is inspiring. Put simply, I would hands-down recommend applying to be an America Reads tutor to anyone who has an interest in education, likes working with kids, or wants to contribute positively to the local Charlottesville community. It truly is a lot of fun and an experience I would not trade for anything. - Santiago
Working with America Reads has been a tremendous benefit to me both personally and professionally. Seeing the students you work with improve throughout the course of the year and grow in confidence is an awesome feeling. I'm always excited to go to my America Reads placement because I know that my students are always ready to learn and always ready to teach me a thing or two. - Andrew
I am enrolled in the School of Education and Human Development at UVA, so America Reads has been an amazing learning experience. While doing this program I have learned the importance of literacy in the adolescent stages. In America Reads I got the chance to share my knowledge and love for reading with my tutees, but the program gave me so much more in return. I learned so much about reading and the structure of words in the English language that I never knew before. America Reads is definitely a program that has enhanced my life, academically and socially. While learning new things, I got to work with the best bosses, coworkers, and students. I am going to miss my tutees, but I am even more excited to see what they do with the knowledge they acquired while in the program. I am very excited to be a part of America Reads! - Nikia
Throughout my experiences with America Reads, I have been able to interact one-on-one with students in different schools from kindergarten through middle school. With the guidance from my teachers, I have been privileged to connect with each student and to be my students’ confidant. My greatest joy is to witness my students excel, grow in confidence, and experience success in the classroom. - Vina
Participating in America Reads has been an enriching and rewarding experience. I began tutoring during my first semester at UVA and have continued every semester since. Through the Book Buddies program at Venable Elementary School and the Abundant Life after-school program at Johnson Elementary School, I have worked one-on-one with students to improve their reading and writing skills. In addition, I have helped with class activities and worked with larger student groups in Kindergarten and 1st Grade classrooms at Venable. I am lucky to be able to share my love of reading with young students and help them learn by building personal relationships. Getting to know students and teachers in Charlottesville has taught me so much and given me a wonderful opportunity to be involved in the community. - Emily
Working with America Reads has given me a truly valuable experience, enabling me to connect with the Charlottesville community and with some of the most compassionate faculty members, and to contribute to each student’s academic growth. With the tutees, you build a mutual learning relationship – the students (who, by the way, really admire you and trust you) learn how to be academically and emotionally mature, while you learn to be more responsible and dependable. I would have never been exposed to this meaningful experience without America Reads. So, tutor away! It will be worth it. - Heidi
America Reads gave me an opportunity to work with the most wonderful staff and students. Many of these students are refugees and just came to America. America Reads tutoring made me aware of my passion and my skills, the passion of helping others to progress and to achieve their goals. English is the second language of many of these kids at school and I am so blessed to help them to progress and make a bright future for themselves. It is important to never give up, not on yourself and not on others. I want to thank America Reads for giving me a great opportunity. - Mona
Steps to becoming an America Reads tutor:
- Apply for financial aid to be considered for a federal work-study award. The procedure is different for new applicants, current undergraduate students and graduate students : www.sfs.virginia.edu
- Submit an application for America Reads on Handshake: https://joinhandshake.com America Reads positions fill up quickly, so it is suggested that interested students apply prior to the start of classes in August for fall employment.
- In the first weeks of the fall semester the America Reads Coordinator will send you an informational email regarding orientation, interviews and hiring. If you apply later in the fall semester the America Reads Coordinator will send you the necessary information in the first weeks of the spring semester if there are openings for the spring.
- Attend an orientation session.
- Complete the America Reads application
- Attend a personal interview at which you will submit your completed application.
- If you are chosen for the job, you must be hired by Human Resources. Specific identification documents are required for hiring: www.sfs.virginia.edu/workstudy
- Provide information for a background check through the University.
- The America Reads Coordinator contacts you with your assignment(s). You contact your supervising teacher(s) to work out details.
Undergraduate students: $11/hour
Graduate students: $16/hour
Graduate Tutor Mentors: Up to $24/hour
America Reads tutors :
- must have been awarded federal work-study by Student Financial Services.
- must be full-time students in a degree program at the University of Virginia.
- must commit to America Reads for the full semester. It is also expected that tutors joining America Reads in the fall will work with America Reads for the entire academic year unless they only have a work-study award for the fall, are graduating in December, or are studying abroad in the spring.
- must attend an orientation session, interview, and any training required.
- must be professional, dependable, and enjoy working with children.
- must communicate with their supervising teachers about any absences and schedule changes.
- must abide by the time card submission procedures as outlined in the America Reads Tutor Manual.
- must undergo a background check through the University of Virginia.
The America Reads tutor positions are federal work-study jobs and are therefore paid positions. Tutors are expected to be professional, dependable, on time, and ready to follow their supervising teachers’ instructions.
America Reads tutors will undergo a background check through the University of Virginia. However, America Reads tutors should be supervised by a school employee in their work with students.
Tutors do not receive training other than the training teachers provide for the tasks the teachers require.
While tutors are prepared to assist with some clerical tasks, the America Reads program requires that their work be primarily academic.
Tutors may have lunch with children or spend time on the playground with children, but they may not be assigned as the supervisor in those settings.
The University of Virginia America Reads program does not require tutors to work during University recesses or after the end of classes in the fall and spring semesters (usually early December and early May). However, if they wish, tutors may work during University recesses and after semester classes end. Tutors may not be paid to work after the University’s spring session ends in May (usually mid-May, after exams are finished). No summer hours are available.
Tutors are required to notify their supervising teachers of any changes to their work schedule in advance of those changes. Such changes include absences due to illness, University recesses, and the end of semester classes and sessions.
Some America Reads graduate tutors may also apply to the school divisions to work occasionally as substitute teachers. On a given day or part of a day tutors may be paid to work as America Reads tutors OR as substitute teachers: they cannot be paid by both America Reads and the school division for the same hours worked.