UC Berkeley Student is Impacting Children Nationwide

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UC Berkeley student Cailin Trinh recently created a highly effective after school tutoring and mentoring strategy that is being shared with thousands of teachers, tutors and mentors nationwide.

America Learns announced today that a tutoring strategy created by UC Berkeley student Cailin Trinh has been named December's America Learns National Strategy of the Month. Cailin's strategy was selected out of hundreds of submissions created by teachers, tutors and mentors using the America Learns Network website nationwide. The strategy will be distributed to thousands of professional- and lay-educators and posted to America Learns' public Web site through December 31st.

Cailin tutors with Bears United in Literacy Development (BUILD) through the Cal Corps Public Service Center on Cal's campus. BUILD connects students with Kindergarten through eighth grade youth from Berkeley and Oakland to provide literacy support in after-school settings. The program's student directors and tutors provide advising, social support and academic guidance to students at one of eleven sites at least twice a week.

Cailin, a Cal freshman, notes that she became a BUILD tutor "to give me the opportunity to reach out and get to know my new community better." After one semester, the experience has taught her a lot. "After completing one semester as a BUILD tutor," said Cailin, "I've learned that it is definitely difficult to be a teacher. But I also learned that there are many students who have stories to tell and goals to fulfill, but don't realize they do have the opportunity to do so."

Cailin has found a way to help her students tell those stories. Given the task of building her students' vocabulary, she found her students getting bored with her tutoring sessions. "Because they couldn't make a connection," said Cailin, "they didn't seem to be interested." So rather than continuing to work on drills and flashcards, Cailin purchased the book, "Our America: Life And Death On The South Side Of Chicago ," which was created out of interviews with two thirteen year old boys living in Chicago's South Side. Her students jumped at the opportunity to read text that was aligned with their own lives and neighborhoods. Beyond just reading, Cailin gave her students the opportunity to think about and express how they feel about life in their own "hoods" through an art project and by writing poetry about their lives in relation to what they read in the book.

"Cailin is fantastic!", said Vanessa Diaz, Co-Student Director for Build at Cal Prep Charter School. "She takes initiative and is very creative with her lesson plans. Students really respond to her ideas and stay engaged in learning."

"It's commonplace to hear education professionals discuss engaging students by making schoolwork relevant to their lives, but it's rare to see a new volunteer tutor do this so thoroughly," said Gary Kosman, Founder and CEO, America Learns. "The thousands of teachers, tutors and mentors we reach will not only benefit from Cailin's well written, detailed strategy, but individuals will also have their eyes opened by reading her students' poetry on our Web site. It's so important to understand how youth in our nation's disparate communities experience life. Cailin is providing us with an opportunity to get a snapshot of some youth in one community."

Cailin's strategy and some of her students' poetry may be accessed between December 11th and December 31st at http://americalearns.net/strategy.htm, and will be permanently available to all America Learns Network members.

About Bears United in Literacy Development (BUILD)

BUILD is part of a grassroots national campaign that challenges everyone to help all our children learn to read, including English Language Learners and students with disabilities. BUILD sparks collaborations to create and maintain tutoring programs among educators, parents, librarians, business people, senior citizens, college students, and community and religious groups. BUILD tutors currently serve at The Bay Area Hispano Institute for Advancement, Berkley Maynard Academy, Cal Prep Charter School, Frances Albrier Community Center, Hoover Elementary School, James Kenney Recreation Center, Le Conte Elementary School, Santa Fe Elementary School, Stiles Hall and Think College Now. Learn more at http://students.berkeley.edu/osl/calcorps.asp or by calling 510-642-3916.

About America Learns, LLC (America Learns):

America Learns is a national educational justice company based in Mission Hills, California. The company partners with school districts, universities and nonprofits to ensure that every child served by a teacher, tutor or mentor receives the highest quality academic and social-emotional support possible. America Learns accomplishes its mission through licensing proprietary technology and content that empowers schools, tutoring programs and mentoring programs to streamline their reporting and evaluation work by providing personalized guidance and support to teachers, tutors and mentors. Organizations tend to reduce the amount of time and money spent on ongoing training, reporting and evaluation purposes by 70% after beginning to use America Learns' services. Since launching its service in September 2004, the company has grown to reach more than 10,000 students nationwide. Its clients include UC Berkeley, Public/Private Ventures, the Minneapolis Public Schools, and the State of Mississippi. The company was seed funded by Echoing Green, the leading global social venture firm. Learn more at http://www.americalearns.net or by calling 310-689-0542.

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