Minnesota Reading Corps tutor Barb Eiken stands in her office at Mabel-Canton beside a pasteboard decorated with the many titles of the books her students have “fallen in love with.”  DAVID STOEGER/NEWS-RECORD
Minnesota Reading Corps tutor Barb Eiken stands in her office at Mabel-Canton beside a pasteboard decorated with the many titles of the books her students have “fallen in love with.” DAVID STOEGER/NEWS-RECORD
Each morning Barb Eiken comes to Mabel-Canton to do something she enjoys - helping children learn how to read.

Eiken works as a reading tutor for Mabel-Canton through Minnesota Reading Corps, which is a division of AmeriCorps. According to the Minnesota Reading Corps website, they are a statewide initiative that seeks to help every Minnesota child become a successful reader by the end of third grade.

Each weekday from 7:30 a.m. through 1 p.m., Eiken tutors nine students one-on-one.

"I get 20 minutes a day with these children - their teachers don't even get 20 minutes of one-on-one with these kids...so I am really lucky," Eiken added.

Minnesota Reading Corps tutors work with children who are "right on the bubble," Eiken said. "Kids that are not necessarily special needs kids, but kids that are not quite there (for their grade level) and we focus on giving them 20 minutes a day of one-on-one attention. It is a very specific, data driven program.... It's been proven over and over again that the (reading) interventions we use work.

Eiken tests her students once a week to measure their progress. After the student meets their target goals, they are released from the program but still monitored to ensure they are remaining above their target goals in their reading.

"From zero to third grade, kids are learning to read (and) once they pass the third grade they are reading to learn," she further explained. "And that is why Minnesota Reading Corps focuses on zero to third grade, because after third grade they have got to have a basic reading skill to be able to learn from then on out..."

"I love it," Eiken said. "I love the kids, they're all unique, they all have great stories to tell me and they all are wonderful...I cannot imagine a better job to do."

Eiken is provided a living allowance through AmeriCorps at no cost to the district. School districts are required to provide only a computer, working space and an internal coach for Minnesota Reading Corps volunteers. AmeriCorps is funded by the federal government and by private and corporate donations.