Virtual Reading Buddies offers work study opportunities


At Wilkes University there are several dozen work study opportunities available for students to get paid while remaining largely on campus There is a very unique and fulfilling work study opportunity that has recently evolved to become even more convenient for students, “America Reads Study Buddy Tutor,” and it has just gone virtual. 


While under this work study, tutors work with elementary grade students as a reading buddy tutor, or as of recently, a virtual reading buddy tutor. The program is run by supervisors Megan Boone Valkenburg and Monica Morrison and they have a mission. 


“Our world is currently in a literacy crisis, and my goal as VISTA is to recruit college students as tutors to help students in first and second grade with their literacy and reading skills,” said Morrison, Wilkes University graduate and AmeriCorps VISTA. “The goal is to work with children before third grade because in particular, third grade is a critical period where children transition from learning to read to reading to learn. Knowing this, we need to intervene as early as we can to help reduce the devastating effects of literacy deficits.” 


The way reading buddy tutors tackle this issue is through invigorating children’s desire to learn by reading with them and playing creative games and activities. 


“We choose fun activities to complete with the kids that will facilitate them with their learning,” said Alyssa Allen-Fields, senior psychology and criminology major. “For example, playing bingo where the numbers are replaced with words, allowing there to be more reading practice or playing cup stacking where the child reads each word on the cup then builds the tower.”


Many of these practices and activities are unique and personalized for the student so their exact needs are tended to, sharpening their overall skill set. Tutors will often tend to two students at a time within the same hour. 


Reading buddies are able to tutor virtually, at the YMCA or at various elementary schools within the area. Schedules are relatively generous and only requires four hours of work per week. 


“Mondays and Tuesdays from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. where we work with second graders and the Wilkes-Barre YMCA on Tuesdays and Fridays from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m,” said Morrison. “Virtually, we tutor on Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. through zoom for first grade students at Solomon Elementary School and Wednesdays from 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. through zoom to first grade students at Heights Elementary School. Being able to participate virtually is a huge benefit for students’ busy schedules.”


Many of the tutors prioritize being patient and kind, allowing for students to feel more comfortable and blossom to their full potential. Bringing up kids when they are discouraged or otherwise overwhelmed is a vital characteristic of the position. 

“A challenge of the work study is sometimes the kids get distracted and begin talking to one another instead of focusing on the activity which motivates me to come up with new activities that will have them be more engaged,” said Allen-Fields.


The primary goal of the America Reads Study Buddy Tutor work study position is to improve the literacy rate of children in the area. There can never be enough people simply helping others improve, and in this case, help the very children that will shape the future. 


“My goal is to recruit as many tutors as I can so that we can help as many first and second grade students as we can,” said Morrison.


If interested in applying for this work study, explore the “America Reads, Civic Engagement” box on the work study jobs page on, or email Monica Morrison (@[email protected]) for more information.