City of Lakes AmeriCorps Member Receives Global Recognition for Her Imagination & Enthusiasm

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Educators worldwide will be helped by a strategy contributed by the AmeriCorps member.

America Learns announced today that a strategy created by Minneapolis Public Schools AmeriCorps volunteer Emily Marcus has been named June's America Learns Strategy of the Month. Throughout June, Marcus's strategy will be available not only to the thousands of educators America Learns serves worldwide, but also to thousands of teachers, tutors, mentors and parents through America Learns' public website and monthly e-newsletter.

Marcus's strategy shows us that being a great tutor involves far more than possessing the skills to help a child learn to read or to become better at math. Knowing how to redirect distracted and active students' energy is just as important.

For much of the school year, Marcus's students often became antsy and disruptive while waiting in line to use the water fountain or the restroom. To keep the students attentive and to prevent them from irritating one another, Emily began to use an activity she dubbed "Behavior Basketball."

"As the students are in line, explain to them that you have something for them in your hand," said Marcus as she described the activity. "Begin dribbling an imaginary basketball. Talk about and show the great "tricks" you can do with it by pretending to twirl it on your finger, etcetera." After dribbling the ball around the children, Marcus tells her students that she's going to pass the ball, but only to those students who are quiet, are listening closely, and are well behaved. The kids who receive the ball can then do a trick with it and pass it back to Marcus.

Marcus has found that the students don't tire of the activity since she only passes the ball to a few students each time and often picks other students to be the main ball passer.

Marcus's supervisor, Jennifer Valley, has nothing but raves to share about this dedicated tutor and after school leader. "Although she is known for her great smile and positive attitude, even Emily has had her share of challenging students," remarked Jennifer. "This strategy is just one great example of how she has risen to the challenge and engaged her students in learning while keeping her cool. We're very proud of Emily and all she has accomplished this year!"

"The only materials one needs to implement this clever strategy are a great imagination and a lot of enthusiasm," said Gary Kosman, Founder and CEO, America Learns. "All of us at America Learns cannot wait to learn how Emily's activity will not only support the educators we now formally serve across 14 countries, but also those teachers, tutors, mentors and parents who receive our free Strategy of the Month e-newsletter."

Marcus's strategy may be accessed for the remainder of June at, and will be permanently available to all America Learns Network members.

About City of Lakes AmeriCorps
The mission of the City of Lakes AmeriCorps program is to help ensure all our children succeed both socially and academically regardless of race, culture, ethnicity, native language, gender, poverty level, disability, or any other status. Since the inception of the program, AmeriCorps members have tutored and mentored over 6,000 low-achieving students in the areas of reading and math and have provided approximately 10,000 children with after school enrichment programming. Members have also participated in service projects in their communities and worked together to develop teamwork and leadership skills. Additional information is available by calling (612) 668-4193 or visiting

About America Learns, LLC (America Learns):
America Learns, based in Los Angeles County, is a global educational performance and accountability firm reaching more than 20,000 students worldwide. The company's flagship service, the America Learns Network, helps organizations to simultaneously collect their educators' best practices from the field, share those strategies with educators as soon as they need them, and measure educators' performance. Organizations using its services include universities (e.g., Dwight Hall at Yale, Duke, UC Berkeley, Georgetown, and the University of Michigan), community-based nonprofits (e.g., Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliates and the YMCA of Greater St. Louis), after-school programs (e.g., Public/Private Ventures' YET centers), and school districts (e.g., the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and the Minneapolis Public Schools). The company also creates and publishes high quality, meaningful, stress-free learning opportunities for children that are steeped in relevant research and practice. Learn more at or by calling 310-689-0542.


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