The Pride and Joy of Serving Others

Johann Shockency tutors a student while serving as an AmeriCorps member in the Minnesota Reading Corps. (Photo by Steve Wewerka)

AmeriCorps member shares the impact of his service year on the children he has tutored – and his own life.

By Johann Shockency

Johann Shockency is an AmeriCorps member with the Minnesota Reading Corps who serves at Little Mountain Elementary in Monticello, MN. He shared his story during the Franklin Project Summit at Gettysburg.

Good morning, my name is Johann Shockency. I am an AmeriCorps member and serve with Minnesota Reading Corps. I am legally blind.

When I was a child I wanted to serve this country as a member of the armed service. That dream came to an end my freshman year of high school when I was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa. I no longer thought I was going to be able to serve this country. I was wrong; there was a different type of service I could provide. I could be a national service member and complete a service year through many different programs.

After some time, I found Minnesota Reading Corps. After reading a study stating that 1-in-4 struggling readers would not graduate from high school, I decided I could make a substantial impact on our youth and country. I now serve as a literacy tutor with students in kindergarten-third grade, delivering to them strategic, research-based interventions designed to give students the boost they need to be successful readers. Without Minnesota Reading Corps, a lot of these students would have an immensely higher chance of not graduating from high school.

Over my service year, I have had the pleasure of serving more than 30 children from my site, Little Mountain Elementary in Monticello, MN. More than half of my students have “graduated” from the program.

A kindergartener I work with started out only being able to provide 18 letter sounds a minute; he is now at 59 letter sounds a minute — well over the standard of 41. Mackenzie, a first grader, started out reading 19 words per minute; she is now at more than 70 words per minute reading, which is higher than the standard for first grade.

Through hard work, great staff at the school, and amazing support from Minnesota Reading Corps, these results were not uncommon. It is a program that works.

This service year has had such a huge impact on me.  Words can’t really describe it all. One thing I can put into words is the sense of pride I now feel.

I am so proud of the students I have helped and so happy with the great impact that I have had on my community. Feeling this much pride and happiness is something that no paycheck can replace; it is something I will have with me for the rest of my life. I also get to see Gettysburg a place that I have on my list of places to see before I can no longer see. I couldn’t be more excited to be here making this testimonial.  It is an honor and privilege.  I hope that over time, more and more people will get to feel this pride and serve their country as a national service member.

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