Essig ’13 and Fragodt ’14 Give Back to Community
University of Minnesota, Morris alumnae Amanda Essig ’13 and Abby Fragodt ’14 are paying it forward by serving with Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps, two AmeriCorps programs. Essig and Fragodt are vital to the programs’ efforts to help Minnesota elementary students succeed.
Essig is in her fourth year at Benson School Readiness. As a PreK literacy tutor, she helps classroom staff and teachers provide additional literacy skills that children need to succeed in kindergarten. Her experience at Morris helped lead her into this role, she says.
“Through the elementary education program at Morris I was able to observe, help, and teach in many different classrooms before teaching in my own,” says Essig. “I gained a lot of knowledge and a wealth of different experiences to fill my toolbox.”
For Essig, the reward of seeing students succeed drove her to return for several more years of service.
“We work to build confidence in kids just as much as we do academic skills,” she says. “Kids who start out feeling successful in school are going to be more likely to work harder to continue the success they know they are capable of.”
Fragodt, on the other hand, is a talent specialist who helps place tutors in schools. She works with community organizations, colleges, and schools to recruit dedicated tutors. Like Essig, she values the difference she is able to make in the lives of children.
“Kids in these programs not only build skills, but also, with the caring, consistent support of a tutor, gain confidence in their ability to learn and grow,” says Fragodt. “That means a better future for all of us.”
Bethany Roisland is a Reading Corps program manager for south central Minnesota. She oversees 45 tutors like Essig at 33 schools and knows better than most the benefits the program provides students and tutors alike.
Roisland points out that while Reading Corps and Math Corps are designed to help students struggling with literacy or math reach grade-level competency, these students actually make greater gains than their peers thanks to their tutors and participation in the Reading and Math Corps programs. By assisting students, the tutors also benefit from their service with these programs.
“In addition to the wonderful results that the students experience, the tutors who participate in our programs also feel that their impact on these students is rewarding and meaningful,” Roisland says.
Picture above: Abby Fragodt, left, and Amanda Essig, right.