America Reads/America Counts celebrates 10 years at UAHuntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The America Reads/ America Counts Program, a national grassroots literacy campaign will soon celebrate 10 successful years at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The program gives college students the opportunity to give back to the Huntsville community, by gaining work experience, and earning money. Student tutors are funded through federal and university work study programs.

The goal of the America Reads/America Counts (AR/AC) program is to improve the reading and mathematics levels of youngsters in grades kindergarten through third grade. Each year, UAHuntsville sends approximately 25 trained students to selected Huntsville City Schools. The students provide several hours of academic assistance to youngsters at no cost to the participating schools.

“The America Reads program is so rewarding for the students and the tutors. I will always remember how the program helped me grow as a person, and the feeling I get when I provide service in a desperately needed area. I can’t wait to start again in the fall semester,” said Matthew O’Hara, a junior majoring in political science.

Dr. Mary L. Piersma, chairperson of the department of education, directs the UAHuntsville program. “The America Reads/Counts programs have been tremendously successful in the Huntsville City Schools. Both programs are part of a long-standing institutional commitment to community service. Over the years, university students have provided more than five thousand hours of one-on-one tutoring to boost reading and mathematics scores of children who really need the help.”

UAHuntsville senior electrical engineering student Lyndsey Holmes said, “I worked with a fourth grade group. It amazed me how much they struggled with reading and mathematics at that age. Since there are so many students per classroom, it is difficult for one teacher to help each student on an individual basis, the teachers really need the extra help.

“At first the kids take some time to trust you, but once they do, they have a ton of questions,” Lyndsey said. “Any kind of interesting fact you can add about what they are learning, they love. By the end of the school year they are speed-reading and acing tests. The little bit that you can help the teacher makes a huge difference.”

All tutors are required to attend a training session prior to the beginning of their school assignment. UAHuntsville students provide tutoring services to Morris Elementary and Rolling Hills Elementary schools.

Requirements for student tutors include:

• 2.5 G.P.A.

• Qualification for financial aid (Federal Work Study Program)

• Excellent communication skills (written and oral)

• Strong interpersonal skills

• Availability to work up to 20 hours per week

• Good organizational skills

• Salary $8.50 hourly

• Picture I.D. and Social Security Card

• Applicants must have own transportation

• 15 credit hours completed at UAHuntsville

For more information, please contact Dr. Mary L. Piersma at 256.824.2325 or email at

For more information
Joyce Anderson-Maples
(256) 824-2101