Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps Member Receives Global Recognition for Her Tutoring Strategy

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AmeriCorps member serving in West Middlesex, PA receives recognition from America Learns for her tutoring and mentoring work

America Learns announced today that a strategy created by Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps member Emily Earnhart has been named January's America Learns Strategy of the Month. Earnhart's strategy, called "Deconstructive/Constructive Sentencing" was created to help one of her eighth grade students complete a Grammar homework assignment. Throughout January, Earnhart's 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 worldwide who subscribe to America Learns' monthly Strategy of the Month e-newsletter.

Earnhart, a graduate of Penn State University and Notre Dame College of Teaching, decided to become involved with the Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps program because "of the opportunity to serve the community through teaching," she said. "I never imagined such an opportunity to serve existed." 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.

Earnhart's strategy helps struggling readers and writers tackle the common assignment of writing a number of sentences with specific types of words while ensuring that the selected words are only used once across the sentences. For example, imagine a teacher asking his students to write a five sentence paragraph, with each sentence containing a unique proper noun, pronoun and objective noun. This type of assignment often causes unnecessary stress and anxiety for struggling readers and writers who sometimes spend enormous amounts of time making sure that they haven't repeated words, as opposed to really learning about word types. Earnhart's straightforward strategy helped her eighth grade student organize and complete his assignment while focusing on learning, as opposed to focusing on and worrying about which words he had already used.

Joyce Fosdick, Executive Director, Keystone SMILES, expressed her appreciation for Earnhart's dedication to the AmeriCorps program and her students in the West Middlesex School District. "Emily is among the 2007-2008 class of AmeriCorps members who bring the highest quality service and integrity to the students and families they serve. The SMILES staff are very proud of the members who have dedicated themselves to strengthening Pennsylvania communities."

"Emily's strategy was selected as January's America Learns Strategy of the Month because it significantly reduces the amount of stress some students encounter while working on these types of assignments," noted Gary Kosman, Founder and CEO, America Learns. "The strategy is so simple and straightforward, making it accessible for volunteers, new teachers and parents to use with their students and children. The fact that a tutor in small-town Pennsylvania can turn stressful moments into learning achievements first in her community and now worldwide is an amazing process that America Learns is so grateful to be a part of."

Earnhart's strategy will be available for the remainder of January at, and will be permanently available to all members of the America Learns Network community.

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 University, UC Berkeley, Georgetown, and the University of Michigan), community-based nonprofits, after-school programs, 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 resources for children that are steeped in relevant research and practice. Learn more at or by calling 310-689-0542.


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