America Reads/America Counts

Marie O'Grady, reading to students

Program Description

This program is designed to enhance primary- and secondary-level reading and math skills of children in Walla Walla, while providing Whitman College students the opportunity to give back to their community, gain work experience, and earn money. America Reads/America Counts interns are funded through the Federal and Washington State Work Study programs. The program is coordinated through the Student Engagement Center. Although participation is subject to funding, the Student Engagement Center aims to support 20-30 interns each semester.

An ARAC intern's reflection:

I took the job as an America Reads/America Counts Intern at Sharpstein Elementary School in the fall of 2010, my freshman year at Whitman.

Each semester, interns are placed in classrooms ranging from kindergarten to 5th grade to assist the teachers and work with students one-on-one or in small groups. We not only help students who are struggling, but also push successful students to further strengthen their math and reading skills. ARAC also benefits us in a number of ways by teaching real-world skills such as punctuality, creativity and patience, while also presenting new perspectives on the education system. Recently, I have become interested in environmental education in elementary schools, which I hope to be doing next year.

Over the last four years, I have watched kindergarteners learn to say thank you, shared in the joys of first graders completing their first chapter book and been beaten by fourth graders in Jeopardy (embarrassingly). I have received more hugs, cupcakes and Valentine's cards than I can count. I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity to grow with the kids in such an inspiring and passionate community.

Marie received the Outstanding ARAC Intern Award for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Program Requirements

In order to be eligible for payment for participation in America Reads/America Counts, Whitman Students must be eligible for Federal or Washington State Work Study Aid. Hours worked cannot exceed a student's Work Study allowance. Whitman interns must be directly engaged in work to enhance the reading and math skills of local primary school students through one-on-one or small group interaction. NEW - For the 2015-2016 Academic year a few non-Work Study students will be hired.

Whitman students will serve as tutors for an average of 5-8 hours per week. They will be paid an hourly wage, which may not be lower than the Washington State Minimum Wage. Interns must sign in and out on a site-specific timesheet. sign-in sheets will be faxed to Marisol Beccerra at 509-527-5934, or ideally scanned and emailed to Marisol at by the 5th of each month. Interns will be expected to maintain an environment of professionalism and will serve as good role models for Walla Walla students.

How to Apply

Principal Duties

Interns will provide one-to-one and/or small group instruction for school age children in the Walla Walla area. They will be assigned to a local school based on best fit, hours of availability, school needs, and location. The focus will be on increasing the language proficiency and the mathematical skills of these children. Interns will report to the Outreach Coordinator of the Student Engagement Center. Each school will have a site coordinator to assist interns with scheduling and school familiarity.


  • Interns must be eligible for federal work-study funding as determined by the Whitman College Financial Aid Office. Please confirm your eligibility with the Financial Aid Services prior to applying for a position.
  • Interns must have an interest in working with children; previous experience with children is preferred.
  • As with all persons working in public education in the state of Washington, interns must receive clearance from the Washington State Patrol.
  • Intern is expected to attend an orientation and training session which is required of all interns prior to assignment.
  • Applicants will work during the school hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Applicants who can work 5-8 hours per week will be given preference.
  • Timesheets are required to be completed on time, on the 8th of each month.


Applications to ARAC are due each semester on a rolling basis. Email to inqure about and/or apply for open positions. If applying for a position, please include a resume and cover letter.

Contact Information:
Visit: The Student Engagement Center - Reid 219
Call: 509-527-5183