By Fitale Wari
Maddie Kusminsky is a rising senior at Denison University majoring in Anthropology/Sociology and minoring in Education, and one day, Maddie wants to be a kindergarten teacher.
After her fall 2017 semester studying Italy, Maddie was excited to return to America Reads, a program that began in 1997 as a government initiative to increase the reading proficiency of America’s youth.
The America Reads Program at Denison University provides campus employment for students with Federal Work Study awards and allows college students to interact with children and teachers in the surrounding communities. America Reads tutors work at 11 partner schools throughout Licking County, tutoring students one-on-one in grades K-3. The program’s goal is to ensure that all children can read well and independently by the end of the third grade.
Maddie got involved in America Reads her sophomore year. When she first started, she worked four hours a week in Newark schools, but realized she also wanted to get more involved in her college community of Granville after she returned from abroad. This semester, Maddie tutors Kindergarten students at both Hillview Elementary and John Clem Elementary Schools in Newark, as well as students at Granville Elementary School.
Every Friday morning, Maddie heads down the hill and works with Granville Elementary students for one hour. During her one-on-one sessions, she works with students to develop their reading skills through interactive exercises that focus on rhyming, syllables, and word fluency.
Working with America Reads has shown Maddie how creative students are at Granville Elementary and has taught her how to work with different learning levels and styles. She considers hands-on learning activities to be more enjoyable for children between the ages five and seven. Through this program, she has had the opportunity to work with students and gain valuable skills as she pursues a career in education.
Maddie is extremely glad to be working with students in both districts, but truly loves working in Granville since she shares her home with them. She also admires the energetic kids she works with, as well as the passionate teachers she has built relationships with. Maddie also loves to meet kids’ parents who are just as involved in their success as she is.
“It’s fun to work with families involved in the community I’m living in,” Maddie said, adding that had it not been for this program, she would not be as involved in the Granville community.
Although it was challenging for her to get involved in the community at first, she is glad Denison provided this opportunity which gave her a little push, she said. Maddie’s extremely happy with her experience both at Denison and within Granville.
Maddie is also the Academic Chairman for her sorority, Delta Delta Delta, and previously volunteered at C-Tech in Newark, Ohio as part of a service learning course at Denison University called Critical Pedagogy.