Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps Member Receives Global Recognition for Her Tutoring Work

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An outstanding AmeriCorps member serving in Greenville, PA receives recognition from America Learns for her tutoring work

America Learns announced today that a strategy created by Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps member Lindsay Thomas has been named July's America Learns Strategy of the Month. Thomas' strategy, an exciting new game called "Word Roundup," was created to help her students learn their high frequency words -- words commonly used in print that are not always spelled phonetically. Throughout July, Thomas' strategy will be available not only to the thousands of educators America Learns serves nationwide, but also to the thousands of teachers, tutors, mentors and parents who subscribe to America Learns' monthly Strategy of the Month e-newsletter.

Thomas decided to become involved with the Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps program after reading about the tutoring position in a local job posting. "I had just received my elementary teaching certification, and SMILES seemed like a wonderful way to fulfill my desire to teach," Thomas notes. SMILES implements more than 20 different programs across Western Pennsylvania addressing child development, at-risk youth, school support, service learning, fitness and recreation, human needs, environment, senior citizens and adult education.

Thomas' strategy gives tutors an option to help students learn and practice their high frequency words without dragged-out, rote memorization. Her strategy involves asking students to draw three to five cards at a time from a deck of high frequency word cards, and to then include all of the words in a silly, creative sentence. Thomas shares that "children love being able to be creative thinkers and writers during the activity." Tutors and teachers align this activity to their students needs by including words in the deck that students still need practice with.

Lindsay's supervisor, Jen Welton, expressed her appreciation for Lindsay's contribution to the community. "Lindsay has been a wonderful asset to the Reynolds School District through this program," said Welton. "Upon applying to the program, Lindsay indicated that she hoped to contribute her 'motivated spirit and passion for education.' To her students benefit, she has done just that. Her caring and creativity are evident in this month's strategy and we are proud to have hosted a member of her caliber."

"It's clear that Lindsay will become a top-notch teacher in her community in the coming years," noted Gary Kosman, Founder and CEO, America Learns. "The entire America Learns Network community is so privileged to benefit from this rising star's work. The fact that a tutor in small-town Pennsylvania can impact children first in her community and then worldwide is an amazing process that we're so grateful to be a part of."

Thomas' strategy will be available for the remainder of July at, and will be permanently available to all America Learns Network members.

About Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps:
Keystone SMILES originated as a service-learning project in the Keystone School District in 1990 and became an AmeriCorps State program in October 1994. It is considered one of the most innovative service-learning programs across the nation. SMILES believes in combining education with community service as a teaching methodology for all generations. Special emphasis has been placed on school readiness and school success initiatives. SMILES implements over 20 different programs addressing child development, at-risk youth, school support, service learning, fitness and recreation, human needs, environment, senior citizens and adult education. Learn more at or by calling 814-797-2127.

About America Learns, LLC:
Los Angeles-based America Learns 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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