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America Reads

Ouachita's America Reads program serves first graders in Arkadelphia Public Schools with one-on-one tutoring and mentoring to improve their reading skills. The program was established in response to a presidential call for literacy efforts among our nation's children. Read more about the program's history below.

These positions are an excellent opportunity for students to contribute to the local community in a meaningful way. In addition to gaining skills in reading, there is a great opportunity for each child to make significant strides in self-esteem as a result of the mentoring aspect, which occurs as the relationship between the tutor and child develops.

"America Reads has been one of the most rewarding experiences I've had here at Ouachita. It's such a wonderful thing to see kids grow, both in their reading skills and in life in general. I started America Reads hoping for an opportunity to make an impact in the lives of students, but I think they've made an even greater impact in my life!"  


"The America Reads tutors are consistent and dedicated as they work with Perritt students individually. These tutors not only increase the students' reading scores, but positively impact their confidence and self-image, directly affecting their future school success."

Requirements for Selected Tutor/Mentors

  • Complete mandatory training workshops at the beginning of the fall semester
  • Sign an agreement to commit to guidelines established for tutoring programs
  • Arrange tutoring schedule with classroom teachers after assignments are made (children should receive about 1.5 hours of one-on-one tutoring per week)

How to Become a Tutor/Mentor

Ouachita students may apply to join the program as either volunteers or as paid work-study positions (for those eligible for federal work-study). Applications are due from Feb. 1 – March 31 in order to tutor the following fall semester. Interviews are conducted by the coordinator of public school initiatives prior to the end of the spring semester. The pay scale for tutor/mentors is $1.00 above the average work-study position.


For more information contact: 
Leigh Anne McKinney, associate director of the Elrod Center
mckinneyl@obu.edu // 870-245-5320

Program History
The America Reads Challenge Initiative is a grassroots, national literacy campaign originated in 1997. Its goal is to mobilize a critical mass of individuals to ensure that every child can read well and independently by the end of the third grade. In response, Ouachita created a model reading tutorial program that offers community service work-study or volunteer opportunities to students.

In 1997, Ouachita formed an America Reads Challenge Steering Committee to develop the proposed model. The steering committee included Ian Cosh, Jeanna Westmoreland, Steve Phillips, Susan Hurst, Rhonda Frederick, Ray Granade and Jeff Root. Ouachita's America Reads program was implemented the spring semester of 1998 and has continued every semester since then.

Jan Bass served as coordinator of public school initiatives until her May 2012 retirement. Leigh Anne McKinney joined the Elrod Center as coordinator of public school initiatives in August of 2012. She is responsible for coordinating all program aspects with the public schools.

In a partnership with United Way color logo

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