“If we had more volunteers we could serve more children,” said Audrey Lindenfelser SSND, executive director of the East Side Learning Center. “We have the space and supplies to add more students to our programs.” In April, the center is celebrating 10 years of reading success with kindergarten to fourth grade students who have been performing below grade level but now have improved their scores. This past year ESLC served 225 students with the help of 240 volunteers.
“Volunteers are essential to success of our program.” said Lindenfelser. College students, retirees, and business teams provide one-on-one tutoring. Each student gets three or even four sessions of individual instruction after school each week.
Twelve years ago in an effort to revitalize and improve the quality of life on the East Side of St. Paul, the East Side Neighborhood Association approached the School Sisters of Notre Dame, asking them to partner in addressing the educational needs of the area. Recognizing that most parents could not afford tutoring for their children, the SSND established a learning center at John A. Johnson Achievement Plus Elementary in 2001. ESLC started with 19 children, 20 volunteers and one sister.
How you can get involved with ESLC
Celebrate: On April 7, at 4:00-6:30 p.m. East Side Learning Center will celebrate their 10th anniversary at John A Johnson Achievement Plus, 740 York Avenue, St. Paul. The public is welcome.
Volunteer: To talk about volunteering (or for more information on the celebration), call Krista Eichhorst at 651-793-7331.
Donate: If you wish to donate books, ESLC needs easy books for grades K-3.
The reading program includes any child living in or attending school in St. Paul in grades K-4 who has below-grade-level performance. Johnson, Bruce Vento, North End, and St. Matthew’s schools are the present sites for after school reading instruction.
The ESLC’s annual report states that they serve neighborhoods in St. Paul that are homes to a large refugee immigrant population. Ninety-two percent of the the students live below the proverty line, and fifty percent of the children receive English language support.
On the East Side of St. Paul the School Sisters of Notre Dame have three other programs: Theresa Living Center and Caroline Family Services, both transitional housing for low income women and their children and MORE Multicultural School for Empowerment, a school and social services for adult refugees and immigrants.
In the 1820s in Bavaria (now known as Germany), Caroline Gerhardinger, foundress of the order of Notre Dames, educated and cared for poor women and their children, believing that strong families created a strong society.
Tutor Bonnie Barnak with Crystal (Photo by Krista Eichhorst (VISTA), photo courtesy of ESLC)