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Clinic, graduate students help children vanquish literacy issues

As Tony Johnson read from the book, Zachary McGuire listened intently while looking at the words and illustrations on the page.
After each sentence and page, Johnson looked at the young boy and asked him questions about the book as they made their way through the adventurous tale involving wolves.
“Do you see here this word is ‘wolves.’ It’s similar to the word ‘wolf’ and it has an ‘s’ on the end of it so it must mean more than one wolf,” Johnson said, pointing to the word on the page. 
McGuire thought about what Johnson said, smiled, and shook his head in agreement.
The one-on-one tutoring session is part of the Fred Duffelmeyer Reading Improvement Clinic offered at Iowa State University as a way to improve literacy among K-12th grade students. The clinic has been offering assistance to students in Ames for about 30 years and is one way the university is working to improve literacy among Iowa’s children.
The clinic, which typically has a waiting list, accepts about 20 students during the spring and 45 in the summer. The clinic isn’t offered in the fall. Parents pay $100 for the semester, which is significantly lower than the average $25 to $50 per hour a private tutor would cost, said Marissa Vermeer, a lecturer in curriculum and instruction.
“The tutors are graduate-level students who have degrees in education,” said Vermeer. “Our tutees are almost all elementary school students with a sprinkling of middle school students. We’re providing opportunities for our Iowa State students to practice their teaching skills and we’re providing a community service.”
The clinic is part of the supervised tutoring in reading class, a graduate course educators take to add a reading endorsement to their teaching license. 
“I teach reading and literacy methods [to the graduate students], they tutor the students, and then we come back and reflect on their experiences,” Vermeer said of the course. Read more.

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