The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Minneapolis 2013,

East Side Learning Center

East Side Learning Center (ESLC) is a highly regarded nonprofit offering a year-round, non-sectarian, free one-on-one tutoring program in reading for St. Paul children in grades K-4 who are below level in reading and who do not have the resources to get help elsewhere. Each child receives 30-45 minutes of tutoring daily, four days a week, using personalized lesson plans written by licensed elementary educators.

In 1998, as part of a long-range effort to revitalize the East Side of St. Paul, the East Side Neighborhood Development Company approached the School Sisters of Notre Dame about addressing unmet educational needs of the area. Recognizing that most parents could not afford tutoring for their children, the Sisters established the East Side Learning Center in 2001 as a community partnership for addressing gaps in school success.

The ESLC is located in and primarily serves St. Paul neighborhoods that are home to large refugee, immigrant, and minority populations. Without adequate reading skills these children frequently struggle in school and society. According to Greater Twin Cities United Way: “In Minneapolis and St. Paul, less than 50 percent of low-income children are reading at grade level in third grade. By third grade, a child’s grades and absenteeism rates can predict whether he or she will complete high school; nationally, each graduate saves the public $209,000. If a child is behind at this pivotal point, the achievement gap can increase, causing additional academic, social and emotional problems. Ensuring educational success in the early years is one of the most important pathways out of poverty.” (, 02/04/13)

ESLC program goals include: (1) helping children reach their appropriate reading level by fourth grade, (2) empowering students to be successful in school and society, and (3) providing opportunities for parents to participate in the reading progress of their children at home.

During FY 2011-12 (July 1 – June 30) 334 children received one-on-one tutoring in reading three or four times weekly with the assistance of over 230 volunteers. Of these children, 75% in grades 1-4 and 62% in our kindergarten pilot reached their ESLC reading goals. First grade readiness among kindergarteners rose to 82% after additional instruction during our summer literacy program. This year we expanded the Kindergarten program.

Presently we are located at two public elementary schools and two charter schools, with a goal to add up to two more sites. Based on research for the ESLC strategic plan, public school leaders estimate that at our present public school sites, our program is serving only about 45% of the children who could benefit from it. Since its inception, ESLC has provided over 86,000 hours of free reading tutoring assistance for more than 1,300 children.

What new functionality we are looking for

East Side Learning Center has a strong commitment to the children we serve and our desire is not just that they learn to read or that they reach a certain expected reading level, but that they enjoy reading and feel a sense of pride, knowing “I am a reader!” We’d like our website to reflect this positive spirit by being more “warm” and inviting. This means a homepage with a simpler, cleaner look: more engaging, more colorful and incorporating pictures and videos. We need to incorporate elements from our current website, like site calendars, but in a better format. We need to be able to easily update content, pictures and videos and add, change, or remove pages.

It’s also important that volunteer and professional tutors, parents, staff and board, donors, funders and anyone else can access the site and easily navigate to information that matters to them. Static placement of navigation links (meaning they don’t scroll off the page as content is viewed) would be helpful. We see simple, unobtrusive social media button links as an easy way for people to share their stories and stay connected with us. An ever present Donate button links to our GiveMN page. We’d also like to offer web forms to sign up for email and newsletter lists, and/or to volunteer. We currently use a Google form for volunteer applications, which is not a perfect solution. A blog is important, as is the ability to post PowerPoint-like presentations on the site.

Looking toward the future, we would LOVE to be able to develop: More interactive content like a children’s page with links to learning games and activities, a way for parents to register their children for tutoring online, password protected pages for board, staff and volunteers to connect with each other (maybe even a forum) and to find resources, meeting agendas, announcements and other pertinent information. We’d also love to have the capacity to add online volunteer tracking software (like Volgistics). A feature story page to highlight a donor, student, tutor, and/or staff member would be a great way to show appreciation for all those who support us and to build a sense of community. A video blog would be great! Basically, we don’t want our content to be static. We’d love the ability to change and grow the website as the organization grows. We would rely on the expertise, wisdom, and creativity of a Nerdery Team to help us realize our dream website!

How the new functionality will help

A more engaging website can help us accomplish our mission in several ways:

It’s the relationships that matter. East Side Learning Center staff members strive to maintain and strengthen relationships with educational partners, families, volunteers, staff, and funders. Good social media integration can help us interact with parents, tutors, and potential donors. A well-designed, engaging site can help us tell our story well. If we can communicate our passion for our mission, our love of children, and our outcomes for the kids we serve, we can attract more educational partners, donors, and volunteers. The more volunteer tutors we can engage, the fewer children we’ll have on our waiting lists. The better funding stream we have, the more sites and more children we can serve. One of our strategic goals for the next three years is to explore opportunities to augment instruction with emerging tools and technology. We see the website as an important component of this initiative.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

Before & After Snapshots

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93 Messages from Supporters

2013-02-06 20:42:18 UTC

Today, a kindergarten student understood how to put sounds he knows together to make words and he was reading a book before the tutor was able to introduce it to him. The excitement on his face was inspiring.

This is the work of the Eastside Learning Center...cultivating lifelong readers!

Mary JF

2013-02-05 22:04:55 UTC

The ESLC has been an important part of my life for the last 4 years. AS a volunteer tutor, I have the thrill of seeing so many children become good readers, good thinkers and good students. There is joy in their faces as they move from level to level in their reading progress. Just this morning, an exuberant first grader, told me his favorite things in school were math and tutoring(ESLC).

The one on one contact with the children makes their tutoring time very special. There is no wait time, questions are immediately answered and activities are designed for their special needs.

I always look forward to working twice a week at ESLC. The staff is so dedicated and they are fun to work with. It's the best part of my week.

2013-02-05 22:24:23 UTC
Sharon White, OSF

The East Side Learning Center (ESLC) is an awesome organization that does amazing work on behalf of children. I have invested myself in this organization for four years. The opportunity to build relationships with children, professional tutors, volunteers and community partners is powerful! A new-user friendly website could help the ESLC spread the word about who we are and what we do--"unlock each child's potential through the foundation of reading." Please consider partnering with the ESLC to make us stand-out so people can learn about and support the great work we do.

2013-02-05 22:41:00 UTC

East Side Learning Center provides outstanding service making the lives of children and families better because the teachers and tutors believe in each child's ability to learn to read, an essential skill for success! An update to the website will help children, parents and tutors connect and have a greater understanding of this wonderful resource available to them.

2013-02-05 22:57:13 UTC

ESLC is an excellent program. It has helped many children learn to
read who may not have made it without the extra help.
I have worked in the program for five years and have seen many children become good readers. I love to see the joy on their faces as they move from level to level. The program has many dedicated volunteers and staff who work hard to make the program suceed.

2013-02-05 23:16:49 UTC

The East Side Learning Center showed me what a group of caring adults (and teens) can do to make a difference in the lives of children and the ripple effect that it has on their community. A more accessible website would help people feel involved, informed and be able to show off what the ESLC can do. Last year while I was with the program I saw kids change over the course of the year from being disinterested in reading to begging for books. With an updated website we could serve the community even better and continue the mission.

2013-02-06 01:36:41 UTC
Bob Thavis

I have had the privilege of being invited to join the board of the East Side Learning Center, and to serve as chair for the past 18 months. I have learned first-hand about the dedicated staff, tutors and other volunteers, and have experienced several highlight moments for the organization - it's ten year anniversary party, where the Mayor and other civic leaders joined with program alums, parents and volunteers; the organization's four-month strategic planning "retreat" last winter and spring, which led to the adoption of a vibrant new plan for maximizing our opportunity to affect children's lives; seeing students and tutors hard at work creating something very special; witnessing the excitement that came with the realization of the staff of the extraordinary success, and potential, of the new Kindergarten/pre-K program. But perhaps the thing that provided the greatest impact for me was my opportunity, in gathering information in advance of our strategic planning process, to meet with the principals and teachers whose student were being tutored. These dedicated, yet clear-eyed, professionals could not have been more impassioned in their pleas to please keep the core mission of the ESLC intact and in their schools, given the opportunities the program was unlocking for their students.

2013-02-06 02:06:18 UTC
Marion Welter

The East Side Side Learning Center's (ESLC)mission is focused on "unlocking the keys for reading" for any PreK-3 child that has difficulty with reading. This one-on-one support creates self confidence in a child and lays a solid foundation for future success and life-long learning. For over ten years the ESLC has made a difference in the lives of numerous children. The program relies totally on the generosity of funders and donors for its support. Having a web site that is attractive, and that tells the success stories of children, will have an immense impact now and on future support of this outstanding program! You will make a significant difference if you partner with them!

2013-02-06 02:18:17 UTC

East Side Learning Center is the best thing that has happened in the East Side of St. Paul! Hundreds of children in the past ten and more years have experienced individual and undivided loving attention not only in building their reading skills but also in building their sense of self esteem and self confidence. To see the children with smiles of appreciation and gratitude, as well as smiles of personal satisfaction in knowing they did and are doing a great job of using their developing reading skills is a great blessing indeed to those of us who have the privilege of being their tutors. May the good work continue for years to come!

2013-02-06 02:20:54 UTC

When you have a program that works you want the whole world to know about it. As a former member of the ESLC Board and now a volunteer tutor, I would like the ESLC website to convey to educators, parents, volunteers, the tremendous opportunity children are having through the ESLC reading program. ESLC staff is all about building relationships with the students and the tutors. What better atmosphere for learning. It would be great to have the Nerdery Folks part of this relationship.

2013-02-06 03:15:52 UTC

I can't thank the East Side Learning Center enough for the wonderful work that they do. My daughter was in the summer program last year. She loved her tutors, enjoyed the sessions and is "hooked" on books. Please help the East Side Learning Center develop their website so that more families and children can benefit from this program.

2013-02-06 04:03:55 UTC

The East Side Learning Center provides a Great Learning Environment for all of the students who come to be tutored. They come and go with Smiles and I have seen tremendous growth in the Reading Skills of the students I tutor. The Curriculum is tailored to the needs and interests of each student. The Leadership is friendly and dedicated to the students.

2013-02-06 14:14:30 UTC

Unfortunately, the East Side Learning Center (ESLC) is one of the best kept secrets on St. Paul's East Side. I say "unfortunately" because they are so amazing at what they do, and they don't get nearly enough credit or publicity for their powerful work! With a revamped website, the ESLC could expand the impact of its important programs by attracting more support from donors and other stakeholders in the community. The ESLC's current website does not do justice to the profoundly critical work carried out by their talented and dedicated staff and volunteers.

2013-02-06 14:21:35 UTC
Cara Quinn, Executive Director at Community of Peace Academy

We are immensely fortunate to have the East Side Learning Center as a partner organization working together with us to support the literacy development of our youngest learners. Their instructional approach is research-based, and their achievement data and our own has demonstrated that ESLC services are making a tremendous positive impact on students' reading skills. Equally important, the ESLC's highly skilled, well-trained and hard-working tutors truly care about the children they serve. The ESLC is a highly effective, well-managed non-profit organization that accomplishes tremendous results on a very lean budget. I cannot think of an organization more deserving than the East Side Learning center of a new website that showcases their excellent work to the broader community.

2013-02-06 14:28:31 UTC
Terri Kramar Kindergarten Teacher Community Of Peace Academy

I feel so blessed to have the ESLC team working with our students. How wonderful to have a one on one tutor 4 times a week to work on reading skills! Our students love working with their tutors & have made so much progress! The tutors genuinely care for their students & work so hard to help them be successful! It is wonderful to see their confidence soar as they grow into readers! It is so inspiring to see all the wonderful things the ESLC staff has done to help our students become engaged readers!

2013-02-06 14:31:20 UTC

As a Special Education Teacher at an elementary school that partners with ESLC, I am amazed at the reading progress our students are making. ESLC provides one-on-one, differentiated reading instruction to students. The individualized instruction and personal attention that each student receives from their caring tutors has made a huge difference for our early readers. Each day when I walk down our halls and see our students fully engaged with their tutors, reading and sharing stories, I feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that our students are receiving instruction at school that will help them to be strong readers. Being able to access resources on-line would definitely benefit the students in their journey to being life-long learners.

2013-02-06 14:34:56 UTC
Sue Flaherty, Library Coordinator

The East Side Learning Center is a vital contributor to success at our school. The expertise, efficiency and dedication of the staff help students who need special help get what is essential at a critical time in their educational development. Their work makes a difference!

2013-02-06 14:58:54 UTC

I have been tutoring for the ESLC for several years now and in my teaching career it has been such an exciting adventure! The children served are given the one-to-one, daily, individual reading instruction they are not able to receive in their main classroom. This program allows them to have success with reading development and build self-confidence where they need it the most. Tutoring these children is a child-centered labor or love! Ann-Marie Schaffhausen

2013-02-06 15:25:04 UTC
Ottavio Savina

I have been a volunteer tutor for the ESLC and it is so gratifying to see a student's pride and excitement when they do a reading without any errors or when they tell you that they love to read and want to show you how successful they are.

2013-02-06 18:30:00 UTC
Andre, student

ESLC should get a new website cuz kids can find reading games easier to play and practice at home. I like playing reading games. If kids want to go to tutoring they can register.

2013-02-06 18:32:12 UTC
Gerardo, student

I like ESLC because I get to read my favorite books and play board games that include reading. Please help us get more tutors. A new website would help make it possible for more kids to get tutoring.

2013-02-06 18:35:32 UTC
Jason, student

I like reading new books at ESLC and getting to a higher level. The website is too old. ESLC needs a new one. We could find some reading games on it.

2013-02-06 15:53:08 UTC
David Suman

As a retired educator, I have witnessed first-hand, the positive effects of tutoring, particularly with young children as they begin school and need strong basic reading skills in order to be successful. As a result, I volunteered to be on the East Side Learning Center board so that I might help support this truly effective program for disadvantaged children.

This past year, ESLC provided 14,534 hours of tutoring support to 334 children. (It's important to note that 6,074 hours of these tutoring hours were provided by volunteers secured through ESLC's recruitment program). In addition, all families are offered home reading activities to aid student progress. The success of the program is shown each year through the use of the schools' Diagnostic Reading Assessment testing program.

Clearly, on-going funding is needed in order for this successful program to continue. And while I realize that there are a lot of worthy causes competing for funding, I'm asking you to please give high priority to this program - it truly impacts the future! There is no greater satisfaction than helping children achieve the confidence to say & believe that "I am a reader"!

2013-02-06 16:13:46 UTC
Adaire Lassonde

The luckiest kids on the East Side are the ones that get tutored at ESLC. They get one-to-one help to do what is the most important learning we can receive, READ! Success in the future for these children is in their grasp because of this experience in their lives. ESLC's website needs a big boost, and the Nerdery can be just the ones that can help.

2013-02-06 18:47:24 UTC

When the children "OWN" their very first book, they are beyond exuberant. Its theirs and they can read it! On their own. For most of these chldren it is their first "ownershiop" of a book that they can now read by them selves. Talk about joy

2013-02-06 16:43:22 UTC
Jen Barrett

The East Side Learning Center is an integral part of our school community, helping to build early literacy skills for our youngest learners at Community of Peace Academy. They are extremely dedicated and reliable in providing daily intensive support to our students. We are very appreciative of our partnership with East Side Learning Center.

2013-02-06 17:18:51 UTC
Sarah, student

Thank you for helping us so the ESLC will keep on going because a lot of boys and girls want to learn to read.

2013-02-06 17:49:07 UTC
Kirstin Moldan, teacher and parent Community of Peace Academy

I have always been impressed by the work of the East Side Learning Center. In the past, I only observed these tutoring sessions as I walked by where they worked. My first impression was awe that they turned formally overlooked space (hallways, half of the staff lunchroom) into places to teach and enrich our youngest readers. Their materials always look organized, fun, and inviting. As I walked by and overheard snippets of conversations I could tell students were enjoying learning. Even from a distance I could tell that the ESLC staff cares for the students they work with and that students enjoy working with them.

This year I feel even luckier to have the ESLC at Community of Peace Academy because my daughter, a Kindergartner, is benefiting. My daughter loves working with her ESLC tutor. I'm amazed at how fast her reading has progressed. She is enthusiastic about reading and uses so many decoding and self correction skills independently already.

As a teacher and parent I am so grateful that East Side Learning Center is at Community of Peace Academy. I think they would be the perfect recipient of free webpage design. They can take a small space and fill it with lots of learning and caring!

2013-02-06 18:03:10 UTC
Gail Engstrom

I have been a volunteer tutor at the Community of Peace since last October, and being a part of the ESLC program has been extremely fulfilling. With every tutoring session I see a new spark of excitement about reading, whether it's because the child has sounded out a new word or is so excited about the topic of the book that it prompts him to talk about connections with his own experiences. The program is designed and implemented very skilfully, and it would be wonderful to see the program reach a greater number of students.

2013-02-06 20:13:06 UTC

The stories that we hear about the children who are receiving one-on-one tutoring in reading from the ESLC are touching and gratifying. The commitment of the ESLC, and that of the tutors they train, is so strong and they care very deeply about the children they are working with. If a child can learn to read and leave elementary school at grade level, the impact on the rest of their educational efforts will be strengthened immeasureably, and they will be successful in those efforts.

2013-02-06 20:31:32 UTC
Pam Kasper

I just recently started volunteering with this group at the Hope school in St. Paul. This is a well run program, well organized and put together with materials appealing to the children and easy for the volunteers.
My site makes me feel welcome and gives purpose to my efforts. Every attempt to accomodate my needs were made. The children seem to really love coming and soak up the attention and personal one to one.
Please consider this non profit for any web work or assistance. Thanks.

2013-02-06 22:02:56 UTC
Krista Eichhorst

I have witnessed the great work that East Side Learning Center accomplishes through the dedication of their staff, volunteers, partner schools, parents, and students. Every year hundreds of kids who could fall further behind in school are given the one-on-one attention they need to become successful readers. And ESLC is able to do this amazing work at no cost to the families! A new website would be a great asset to this organization and help them communicate their message more effectively to partners and potential donors.

2013-02-06 22:59:26 UTC

What could be more important than helping all kids become competent, productive members of society. As a volunteer I am so impressed with the way kids enjoy the great materials we use--tools that were never dreamed of when I was a kid. To anyone familiar with it, the ESLC is obviously an outstanding program, and any website that can contribute to its effectiveness would be a big plus for the community.

2013-02-06 23:42:49 UTC

The ESLC tutoring has been an crucial asset to reading instruction with my first graders. Students that would get lost in the larger classroom reading centers are receiving one on one attention that teachers always struggle to provide. I have been so impressed with the documentation of lessons and learning that occur and the willingness to work with and share data and strategies with classroom teachers. A new welcoming, friendly, colorful, useful webpage would continue to promote and enhance these connections between the tutors, teachers, and students.

2013-02-07 00:29:51 UTC

I have been so blessed to be a part of the East Side Learning Center for the past 3 years as a Professional Tutor. It is a wonderful program that really makes a difference in these children's lives. The program is very well organized and deserves to be chosen for this special program to help the Learning Center even more. The children love coming to the tuotors and to see the progress that they nmake through the year is very rewarding. I truly hope that they can be one of the groups chosen.

2013-02-07 01:37:06 UTC
Rita Wollschlager,SSND

When the East Side Learning Center began I chose to tutor after I finished teaching at my own school. Reading is so important for the success and well being of young students. For this reason the East Side Learning Center must continue be a beacon that shines brightly in and for the children throughout the city.
When I lived in St. Paul I was involved in ESLC by serving on the Board, tutoring during the year, as well as assisting with the Summer Program. I witnessed the generousity of many who came to serve in a variety of positions. ESLC has been built on hard work, and generous volunteers. East Side would Welcome help from anyone willing to share.

2013-02-07 02:18:55 UTC
Kindergarten students from Community of Peace Academy

*They helped me read and we played fun games. (Abygail)

*We played fun games and read books. (Max, Joey, and Dominic)

*We read and made fun things. (Sebastian)

*My tutor is teaching me to read. (Elizabeth)

*ESLC has given my students the confidence to read. (Ms. Her)

2013-02-07 02:44:56 UTC
Jodi Fiege, Early Literacy Specialist, Community of Peace Academy

As a former middle school teacher, I was blessed to become a member of the East Side Learning Center family. The East Side Learning Center is a dynamic teaching and learning community whose current website does not reflect the positive, motivational nature of the organization. Each school with an East Side Learning Center Site is provided two experienced primary school teachers who coordinate professional lesson plan writers/tutors, volunteer tutors, and act as a resource for classroom teachers. Each student enrolled in the East Side Learning Center is provided with unconditional positive regard and support, an individual lesson four days a week, and one-on-one-one instruction from a trained, caring adult. The consistent care and instruction provided to barely emergent readers builds their confidence while creating a solid foundation for future academic success. I believe in the East Side Learning Center's contribution to helping children develop a love of reading and learning! I intend to register my daughter for East Side Learning Center tutoring this summer and hope the new website will encourage other parents to do the same.

2013-02-07 04:08:28 UTC

The ESLC is a great organization with a tremendous group of volunteers that strive to make a difference everyday. The work of the ESLC depends upon collaboration and an update to the website will allow the ESLC to serve the schools, the children, the families, and the community better. TK

2013-02-07 05:58:10 UTC

ESLC has been a great part of our students' daily learning at our school. I am noticing many of the students that were helped by ESLC increased their reading skills. With their tremendous work, ESLC deserves your help designing their website.

2013-02-07 15:07:58 UTC
Kara Bixby

The East Side Learning Center provides an invaluable service to kids and their families. Research shows that the ability to read by third grade is a determinate of future success in both school and life. By helping students master and love reading, the East Side Learning Center is preparing its students to be successful in school and use reading to learn and develop other key skills.

My organization has partnered with the ESLC for over five years, and I have been able to directly witness the impact the program has on its students. I also served as a volunteer at the ESLC, where I tutored a second grade boy for a year. It was amazing to see the growth that he made in just one year. By helping the ESLC build a new and improved website, the Nerdery will enhance and scale the great work that the organization has achieved so far.

Not to mention, wouldn't it be great to have a group of nuns at the overnight challenge?!? I don't think that has happened before.

2013-02-07 15:14:30 UTC
Audrey Lindenfelser, SSND

I believe the East Side Learning Center is a “hidden treasure” waiting to be discovered. A vibrant, interactive website could help families, volunteers, donors, and funders uncover this treasure for the sake of the many more children who could benefit from tutoring. We need a new “Nerdery-ized” website that will draw more volunteer tutors and financial supporters into the ESLC mission. We'd love to have an amazing website which will tell our story so well that additional underserved children will receive the tutoring they need to reach more of their potential. Just yesterday I had two children approach me asking, “When can I come for tutoring”? For the sake of many waiting children please share your Nerdery talents with us. You will be extending your influence for many years to come by helping more young learners have tutors!

2013-02-07 15:18:47 UTC
Jill, ESLC Admin Assistant

First, I need to thank Mark, our generous volunteer web tech who not only helped us create our first website, but also hosted, updated, and eventually taught us how to update our site! We are grateful for his years of service in support of ESLC! Mark is moving on to other adventures, and our website needs have grown since our early days, so now would be the perfect time for a Nerdery website intervention!

ESLC has a GREAT program, DEDICATED board and staff, GENEROUS professional and volunteer tutors, donors and funders. We are GRATEFUL for our educational partners, especially the schools and staff at the four sites in which we’re located. HELP US create a website that communicates not just information about our program and mission, but one that gets to the HEART of who we are and why we do what we do, so we can attract more partners, volunteers, donors, and funders, all for the sake of the many children we have the desire to help!

2013-02-07 16:04:50 UTC
Cathryn O;Donnell, ssnd

The ESLC helps develop healthy, skilled children through their reading development program, which is so well organized. Children are helped to developed skills, and personal development for healthy citizens.

My participation as tutor for this program has also led me to new insights about learning, and the desire to help children discover their skills.

The program involves many wonderful teachers who use their skill to help children develop reading and thinking skills.

2013-02-07 16:50:14 UTC
Bridget Waldorf

As an original "East Sider" and one who has seen many changes over the years in the neighborhood, I can't say enough about the importance of what the ESLC does. The community, the children and families are stronger and more educated because of the work being done there. The cool thing is that it isn't outsiders coming in to tutor children - it's those "natives" who are invested in the future right there, right now. As far as the website goes, I think it's important to recognize that the work being offered will be "backed up" by committed staff who will be able to maintain the functionality of the website once it gets online. What a tremendous gift you are offering; thank you for using your gifts for the good of the world.

2013-02-07 17:12:13 UTC
sharon johnson

I have tutored at the East Side Learning Center for five years and love the approach to learning found here. As a retired teacher, I know the value of working one-to-one with a student in the area of reading. The children also benefit from the relationship developed with the tutor. It is one more adult in their life that helps make a difference.

2013-02-07 19:42:58 UTC
Kris Klingner

"Do we have tutoring today?" I hear this everyday from my first grade students who receive tutoring from the ESLC. One of the our second language boys who was Chicken Little in their ESLC play wore is Chicken Little headband every day for a week. He was so proud. Other children are so proud of their reading accomplishments that need to read their book to me every day. Another girl returns from tutoring holding the hand of her tutor exclaiming, "teacher, I can read now!" My stories of self confidence and pride go on and on. We are so lucky to have ESLC at our school. Thanks to all the tutors for all your help and support. We couldn't do it without you!

2013-02-07 19:44:20 UTC
Dick McCarthy

As an EastSide native and the Executive Director of Merrick Community Services for twenty years I know full well the importance of early education to the EastSide community. The children in our families need extra help to get started in school. If you can’t read how can you learn!

I was fortunate enough to be there when The East Side Learning Center came to the community and it was my privilege to serve on the first ESLC Board of Directors.

I knew many of the first tutors, my wife included, and they were and still are a dedicated and talented group.

Over all the years I have been associated the ESLC has been a pretty well kept secret. An improved website would absolutely enhance their visibility and improve their outreach.

2013-02-07 20:58:36 UTC

East Side Learning Center is such a important asset to the community! The work that they are doing is truly helping children learn and grow!

2013-02-07 21:05:06 UTC

As a tutor for the East Side Learning Center, I think they do fabulous work. I hope a new website will promote their services and give them the recognition that they deserve!

2013-02-07 21:14:43 UTC
Joanna Illg SSND

I was part of the East Side Learning Center for nine years, seeing it grow from a very small pilot program into a highly successful educational endeavor. With a goal of unlocking the potential in each child, it focuses on faltering students, caught in a web of non-learning because they are unable to read at their grade level. The biggest thrill for me was to observe a personality change in a child after only a few one-on-one tutoring sessions. For a first time student, it was not uncommon to see a sullen countenance, uncertain, seemingly dreading coming through the door. After only a few lessons, that same child might come skipping into the Center, happily greeting his/her tutor, and clearly exhibiting a pride and confidence, knowing that he/she as learning how to read. What a rewarding experience!

2013-02-07 21:20:27 UTC
Joan Fink SSND

I have served on the board of the ESLC and am happy to recommend them to receive the New Website. ESLC operates economically with careful stewardship of resources and would benefit much from a website such as the Nerdery Team would create. Your creative website would be a help to the students, staff, tutors, and parents.

2013-02-07 21:34:55 UTC
Mary Meyer

I have been a volunteer tutor at the East Side Learning Center for a number of years. Everything about the ESLC is commendable -- the caring, helpful staff, friendly volunteers, prepared lesson plans, students eager to improve reading skills and atmosphere most conducive to foster a love of reading.

2013-02-07 21:37:15 UTC
Amy Fink

The East Side Learning Center does amazing work. The students who are lucky to take part in the program benefit from the professional experience, long dedication, and consistent high standards of the ESLC staff and volunteers. It's great to see a program that is organized and managed so efficiently and effectively, making the best use of work space, materials, and participants' time and talents. The students arrive each day enthusiastic to learn. They are clearly happy to see their tutors. They sit down and get right to work. When the session is over, they leave looking satisfied and confident about the gains they are making.

I hope Nerdery will partner with ESLC and help them update their web site so that it is easier to maintain and more user-friendly.

2013-02-07 23:19:36 UTC

East Side Learning Center does so much for the communities of St. Paul. Students are engaged and excited to see their tutors and teachers every day. The tutoring program is incredibly helpful for the children as they not only grow into stronger readers, but also form connections with adults that they can look up to. An updated website would help facilitate this invaluable process and allow more connections between the students and their role models.

2013-02-07 23:33:28 UTC
Community Partner

East Side Learning Center provides an extremely important service to the community, and they are a highly valued partner to our program. While their focus is on the students, ESLC also works hard to create a positive experience for volunteers and other community members, and these efforts will be amplified by a new website. ESLC is an outstanding organization that deserves and equally outstanding, fully nerdified website!

2013-02-08 01:08:18 UTC

I know several tutors at the East Side Learning Center. They love what they do and believe that they are making a difference in the community.
As someone who lives on the east side of St. Paul I would love to see this organization get help from the Nerdery so more families could get help for their struggling readers--at no cost! An improved website would not only provide information, it could attract potential donors and volunteers. Please, please put the East Side Learning Center at the top of your list!

2013-02-08 01:14:20 UTC
Claudette Hudalla

Having served on the Search Committee working to set up the organization now known as the EAST SIDE LEARNING CENTER, I feel well compensated for every hour spent on this project. Today I am a retired teacher spending four afternoons a week working in this one-on-one program. Daily I am amazed by he dedication of the directors and other volunteers. The updated materials furnish a wide variety of choices to meet the diverse needs of these students. We hope that the ESLC will have a well-deserved future in this city.

2013-02-08 01:24:26 UTC
Jonelle Rein

As a retired teacher, I enjoy the enthusiasm of two of the teachers
at the ESLC. They are so positive, especially with the many anecdotes of the successes they are experiencing. We hope that this program which is reaching so many students in need, will continue to flourish well into the future.

2013-02-08 01:31:47 UTC
Marjorie Rosenau

As an elementary teacher with 50 years experience, I am aware of the needs of children, especially in reading. If a child can read, all other subjects become clearer to them. Some homes speak other languages and the children cannot get the help they need at home. The added help the ESLC program supplies, can make all the difference in their lives.

2013-02-08 01:43:20 UTC
Yolanda Latessa

I observe that the ESLC is reaching many students who need reading skills in order to make dailyy progress at their grade level. I can appreciate the detailed lesson plans the staff prepares for each student. So many children come from homes where another language is spoken and the parents are unable to help them. The added help given by the teachers in the program is giving them the tools to meet the future with confidence.

2013-02-08 01:56:04 UTC
Veronica Horvat

East Side Learning Center is a tremendous resource for children and parents to fit in with their peers and get the extra help to be successful. I am a retired teacher and I am amazed at the techniques used to involve students in their learning. The tutors and teachers are dedicated and enthusiastic. I hear only positive comments about East Side Learning Center.

2013-02-08 02:52:14 UTC
Mary Margaret

The East Side Learning Center is more than deserving of an enhanced website which will expose all areas of activities, information,and success involved in their exciting program. A proven success rate happening here needs to generate throughout the public. Being a seasoned teacher, and professional tutor, I have observed excellent professionalisn, commitment, generosity,and love within the staff serving the children. Unusual efforts by staff have provided students with individual programming involving multi-sensory opportunities to touch each of them. The excitement transfers from teacher to student and likewise from student to teacher. Please help us generate information and interaction of what is happening here by providing an enhanced website. THANK YOU!

2013-02-08 04:49:47 UTC
Stephanie Spandl

AS a social worker working with refugee families on a daily basis, I regularly see refugee children falling behind in their learning because their parents are unable to help them with their homework and learning due to language barriers. These children have great potential and their parents deeply desire a good education for them so that they can have a good life - hope beyond the trauma and war they have left behind. The East Side Learning Center is a great support to many families such as those I serve and makes a tremendous difference in their future success in education and life - not only for the child but the entire family.

2013-02-08 05:30:55 UTC
Rebecca Nordstrom

The East Side Learning Center (ESLC) provides a safe, caring environment in which students who are struggling with learning to read are given one-to-one instruction, based on their individual needs. They also receive the encouragement, affirmation, and validation that motivates them to succeed. As A professional tutor I daily experience the "Aha" moments of these students. Early in the school year, a young student asked me, " Am I here to learn how to read better?" My response was "Yes, you are!" With a big smile and gained confidence she continued, "Well, I think it's working!" The East Side Learning Center functions in partnership with the school community, the local community, donors, funders, and many volunteers. We would GRATEFULLY WELCOME the Nerdery into this partnership! A new website would allow the ESLC to be technologically more effective in communicating information about our mission and our program, in recruiting volunteers, in soliciting funders and donors, in updating progress reports and program changes and in expanding our presence and service into other sites where there are young students waiting for help.

2013-02-08 07:23:18 UTC
Jando Danial

My name is Jando Danial, I have been volunteering for the East Side Learning Center, at John A Johnson elementary school for almost 6 months. This is my second semester. All I can say is that words by themselves can’t express how great the program is. They make very educated decisions on what a student is able to do, or interested in. I tutored first and second graders. Through out the first semester, I felt how those little kids were enjoying the reading. At the end of the semester, I was amazed by the progress that they made due to the very organized materials that they were taught by. I always tell people about it. I tell them how important is to have people who actually care about little kids’ successes. The educational games, interesting books, and the training that the tutors get from ESLC sum up everything to create a healthy, strong, and successful students. If there is someone who deserves to be selected, it would be the ESLC. Our kids need someone to take good care of them. And we want our kids to be in good hands. ESLC it is. I would like to thank you for this amazing opportunity and hope that you consider the ESLC one of the 25 nonprofits to be selected. The way we want our children to experience is at the ESLC.

Sincerely, Jando.

2013-02-08 13:56:36 UTC
Elizabeth K Student

I like reading with my tutors. They help me to read.

2013-02-08 13:57:30 UTC
Youpeng K Student

I like writing words on the whiteboard with my tutor.

2013-02-08 14:48:05 UTC
Volunteer and Board Member

The difference we make at the East Side Learning Center is HUGE for the young lives we touch. The ability to read means life-long learning, success in any chosen field, greater happiness. That is impact. We desperately need a website that is as dynamic as our impact, charged with the energy of the kids who come to us every day for tutoring; as thoughtful as the lessons that we deliver to every student; as compassionate as our mission; as compelling as the vision and leadership behind this great organization.

If we draw more volunteers, more attention, more money, we can serve more students. Our website needs to be dynamic, alive, and attractive. It's our public face! It's time for a make over!

2013-02-08 15:02:18 UTC
Abygail K Student

I like reading with my tutor. I like when my tutor reads to me too!

2013-02-08 15:03:36 UTC

The East Side Learning Center provides an opportunity for young people to have quality time with trained volunteers and professionals whose main objective is to enable each student to develop self confidence and a love for reading by encouraging, affirming, and supporting them and equipping them with the tools they need to improve their reading skills.DJ

2013-02-08 15:09:31 UTC
Phoebe K Student

I like to play games with my tutor. My tutor helps me read!

2013-02-08 15:10:55 UTC

East Side Learning Center is an awesome program and resource to the families in my program. One of my housing trust fund families often struggled to help her children with home work due to her own learning disability and did not want them to fall behind due her own limitation. The case worker in our program was able to convince her to enroll the children in ESLC tutoring program. Currently, the children are still in the program and have exceeded academic expectation. The children enjoyed one to one reading and homework help with the tutors. Therefore, I strongly recommend East Side Learning Center for the new design website.

2013-02-08 15:42:46 UTC
Sr.T. Sergot dad came to the EastSide of St. Paul from Poland in 1905 and I am so grateful that he was taught how to read in the English language by some caring folks along the way. It has been my opportunity as Tutor and Coordinator over the past 7 years to work with the East Side Learning Center to continue this caring mission.It is our challenge to be that GUIDING LIGHT for many who will someday walk in the shoes of those of us who have passed ours on...and may the gift of READING be among the many GIFTS SHARED in whatever way is ours to share it. We are so blessed to have people like you folks sharing your gifts which will enable the torch to be passed on...and on...and on...!!!

2013-02-08 15:47:59 UTC
Maggie Wirth-Johnson

I am one of the Professional Tutors at the East Side Learning Center's site at St. Paul Music Academy. My licenses are in elementary education and K-12 reading. Professionally I have chosen to work at the East Side Learning Center because of its mission which I know, in practice, works wonders. The child who receives one-on-one reading instruction will move forward at a greater rate than he or she will, struggling to comprehend within a larger group. We have at our resource materials which we use and adapt continuously to make each lesson work for the student we are teaching, and we use our experience and knowledge to "tweak" the lessons as we work with students. As teaching professionals we are able to share ideas with each other within our own site so that the 6 or 7of us can benefit from the knowledge and experience of our colleagues. But since all the ESLC tutors are separated into our respective schools, we don't often get a chance to come together. It would be so fantastic if the ESLC website could be used by us, internally, to post ideas which we have used, questions, web pages, and/or other sources for materials-- for ESLC tutors in other sites.

2013-02-08 15:55:28 UTC
Kirstin Scanlan Madore

For the past 2 years my kindergarten students have been receiving excellent one to one tutoring from the East Side Learning Center. It's incredible how flexible and dynamic this organization is. They will change do what they need in order to get kids reading. Technology is an essential tool for educating children and I believe ESLC will use this web site to reach children in many different ways.

2013-02-08 16:42:23 UTC
Louis Trudeau Dean of Students Community of Peace Academy

Our young students can hardly wait to begin their sessions with the East Side Learning Center Teachers. They are engaged and happy every day I see them. That goes for BOTH the children and the teachers ! This is a great service to our community.

From personal observation and experience this program is comparable to private tutoring companies.

A new website will help spread their good news.

2013-02-08 19:05:53 UTC
Jane Thibault, SSND

I love tutoring the same students for 45 minutes every day! Their progress is inevitable and thrilling to witness, especially when a child all suddenly realizes with visible pride that he/she is actually reading a book -- not just reading words. It's sort of like a child's struggle to learn to balance on the bike, and then, all of a sudden, finding him/herself biking with ease. I'm also convinced that our daily tutoring will make a significant difference in each student's future as an adult.

2013-02-08 19:40:38 UTC
Ben Block

As a teacher, there are certain times in the day that you wish you could meet with multiple students for a one-on-one lesson simultaneously. Thanks to the ESLC tutors, 5 of my students are able to getting that individualized attention for 3 hours every week. I am grateful, for my students' sake, to have this opportunity.

2013-02-08 20:25:26 UTC
Sr. M. A. Kunze, SSND

Our group worked for 3 years to decide how we could best serve the East side of St. Paul. When we made the decision to start the East Side Learning Center, it was the right decision. Kids who NEVER owned a book were filled with joy when they not only got and owned a book, but could READ IT! So much good has come out of this venture that it is not possible to account for All THAT HAS HELPED the East Side.

2013-02-08 20:32:40 UTC
Neysa Housley

As a teacher & volunteer at ESLC, I want you to know that it is a joy to have this opportunity to be a part of this unusual excellent program. The needs of these multilingual & multicultual school children and their families are extensive.
Not only does oESLC have excellent resoures to teach reading but most of all this program is developed and guided by motivations which are based on healthy and wise values which makes our teaching efforts one of warmth, kindness and generousity, which the children enjoy. We could really use your web assistance. Thank you.

2013-02-08 20:46:23 UTC
Karen Lay

Besides serving on the Search Committee which worked on the foundation of the ESLC, I also volunteered in the programa. The dedication of the tutors and the directors has been outstanding. The benefit of this program to the students whose parents are unable to assist them because of a language barrier, is a wonderful opportunity for them. Being able to read is a tool that opens up avenues of learning that will move them to another level. I hope this program continues on into the future.

2013-02-08 21:29:34 UTC

When referring a child for tutoring to the East Side Learning Center, teachers choose students who are struggling readers. Tutors have the opportunity to work one-on-one with these students for one hour, four days per week. I have seen my students enter third grade struggling to read and eventually blossom as readers due to this intense extra support.
I believe the East Side Learning Center is a valuable asset to the community. Not only have students been able to develop stronger reading skills and strategies due to the tutoring they receive, they have established connections with adults who care about them. They also become more confident and proud of themselves as they become more fluent readers, which benefits them in the classroom as well. I hope you pick the ESLC for a new website!

2013-02-08 21:47:03 UTC
Victoria Perkins, ESLC Coordinator of Volunteers

I have been working with ESLC since August, and what I have experienced in that time is beyond compare. There is so much respect and support among the staff, which is reflected in the way tutors interact with the children. When you enter a tutoring site in the midst of tutoring, you see it: love, respect, encouragement. Having the opportunity to watch children grow from disconnected, anxious students into confident readers has been revelatory for me on a personal level. Being a part of ESLC has truly changed my life for the better, and I know a lot of our volunteers feel the same way. As you can see from all of these testimonials, we have a lot of stories to share, and so many people who love the program and feel lucky to have the opportunity to do what we do. I’m always looking for new ways to share these stories and get our committed core of volunteers to tell their own personal triumphs in tutoring. What better way than a redesigned website that is easy to navigate and makes it possible for people to connect, share, and spread the word about ESLC? One of our struggles as an organization is finding enough volunteers to serve as many kids who need our help. We have long waiting lists, and it’s heartbreaking that we simply can’t take children because we don’t have enough volunteers. My hope for a redesigned website is one that stands out to potential volunteers, tells our story effectively to draw them in, and makes it simple for them to apply.

2013-02-08 21:55:34 UTC
Norman Vinnes

I have been involved with ESLC for the past twelve years or so. I worked as a volunteer for several years and I have made financial contributions during many of those years. I have been very impressed with the leadership provided by Sister Audrey Lindenfelser and with the staff as well as with the many volunters utilized in the program to help children learn to read. This wonderful program should be revealed to a much broader audience!

2013-02-08 22:20:04 UTC
Christine Marks-Reading Specialist for 16 years with the St. Paul Public Schools

Thirteen years ago my Reading Specialist partner Addie, retired and told me that she was excited about the next chapter in her life. I wondered what she was so excited about and listened over the years as she shared how blessed, happy, and how these years have been an extremely rewarding chapter in life
Why has Addie, an excellent Reading Specialist and first grade teacher in the St. Paul Public school district for years, been so enthusiastic about this chapter in her life? The reason her life is so good is that she has been a professional tutor at the East Side Learning Center and has made a huge difference teaching children to read! Founded by S. Audrey Lindenfelser, this amazing during and after school tutoring program has grown from a small program at John A. Johnson school 13 years ago, to the present, currently serving students at three sites. Growing two more sites for next year for next year will enable the expert tutors and the many other tutors that work with students (teaching from lesson plans written by the professional tutors,) reach many, many more students. Receiving the early professional reading intervention that the ESLC provides changes lives and futures on a daily basis. Addie's story is just one story. Her happy, rewarding and productive "chapter" at ESLC is one that many other teachers/tutors with the expertise that Addie has, can most likely relate to. Can one person make a difference people wonder. I don't wonder. I've seen the ESLC tutors carefully plan the teaching that their student needs, and why some people call it "magic," because of the great results and data that the ESLC has achieved. I've seen the faces of students smiling as they come in the door to have a lesson with their tutor who teaches, cares, and cheers for them! And I've also seen the smile on Addie and all the teachers.
Working with this Nerdery Website award, ESLC will be able to make an even bigger difference in the lives of students, parents, and all others who dream of every child being a life-long reader! Reaching out with an effective, innovative, informative, interactive and inviting website will "grow" this LIGHT OF LITERACY that the ESLC is, to a BEACON OF LITERACY for the St. Paul community! Please help "grow" this proven literacy program with your website strategies, and together we can teach our children to read and attain the future they should have!

2013-02-08 22:43:21 UTC
Patricia Gohla

1 of many

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Patricia Gohla

4:39 PM (10 minutes ago)

to me
The East Side Learning Center, known at ESLC, was developed upon research.
The founding committee planned this program, with results in
focus.And the RESULTS HAVE BEEN TREMENDOUS and have been statistically
documented for your viewing. A nationally known speaker, Richard
Flint, stated that BEHAVIOR NEVER LIES. This being the case, you need
to just watch the behavior of the children learning to read, the self
esteem they gain, and their behaviors change from "I can't" to "I
can", which leads them to a great positive direction in their life.
Dr. Richard Flint also explained how life is made up of 4
HOUSES...these being..1)personal,2)family,3)social, and 4) business.
This also being the case, the ESLC has LIFE IN EACH OF THESE FOUR
AREAS. The children benefit THE MOST with PERSONAL self esteem and
ability to become what they want to be.
The FAMILY benefits with the healthiness of the children. SOCIALLY,
these children relate better with classmates and adults, and the ESLC,
(as a non-profit business)...has added tremendous LIFE, to everyone
working in each of these 4 areas.
One needs to visit the sites, to see what's really happening.
I started in 2002, as a teacher at the ESLC. For the next 3 years, I
served on the ESLC Board. It's not only the children who grow, but
and yes, even ME. There is no other program like the ESLC in all of
MINNESOTA. With addition WEB site, information will flow to people not
yet involved or having knowledge of the helpful ESLC program. And, if
you meet the DIRECTOR, your heart will melt, and your ABILITY to help
with follow with your honest DESIRE to help. This is your great
opportunity and challenge.

2013-02-09 05:11:36 UTC
Pat Loehlein

It is a pleasure to participate in the valuable work that takes place daily at the East Side Learning Center.I have one-to-one tutoring sessions with children in kindergarten or first-grade who are behind grade level in their reading.

The Center provides a solid program of reading instruction; a wealth of resources; and respectful interaction with the Center's small "clients". Serious, dedicated work to help each child to read well takes place daily at the Center.

The opportunity to work part-time there brings fun too. As I began my tutoring session earlier this week at the East Side Learning Center, I was pleasantly surprised by the entreaty of the little kindergartener I tutor. She asked me if I could give her a "pony". A little later, I received a clarification that she wanted me to fix her hair in a "pony tail".

2013-02-09 05:55:01 UTC

The East Side Learning Center is a place where children can become better readers and it helps them to develop a strong interest and love towards books and reading. Reading is a life skill which almost everyone can achieve with the proper instruction, tools and caring individuals. The East Side Learning Center provides all of that plus more. It is a great place for children to have one to one time with caring adults in an instructional environment.

2013-02-09 06:20:33 UTC
Jen Kamarainen, Former Tutor/Board Member

The world would be a better place if all organizations were run like the ESLC. The ESLC is very focused on their mission and are willing to cooperate with other organizations to teach as many kids as possible to read. The students and staff continually show their gratitude, which is incredibly rewarding as a volunteer. And they use their resources efficiently - board meetings were pot luck affairs and plastic silverware was reused. More people should know about the amazing work the ESLC does. Assistance with website development would help spread the word while allowing the ESLC to do what they do best - helping kids in st paul succeed through love and reading!

2013-02-09 20:16:08 UTC

The East Side Learning Center deserves this reward for the very fact that it helps so many children open the door to becoming proficient self-confident readers!

George Frandsen

2013-02-10 18:28:35 UTC
Marylee Stabenow

When I read that "children who do not read by third grade often fail to catch up and are more likely to drop out of school, take drugs, or go to prison. So many nonreaders end up in jail that Arizona officials have found they can use the rate of illiteracy to help calculate future prison needs." I knew it was important to nip the problem in the bud. Early intervention is key. ESLC's Kindergarten Pilot is addressing the issue at its root.

2013-02-13 17:10:02 UTC
Lizz Paulson

I have been a Professional Reading Tutor at the East Side Learning Center for four years. During this time, I have experienced the joy of empowering students with reading skills,reading and successful experiences. As an educator for over thirty years, I can not say enought about the powerful impact of successful learning experiences and one on one instruction that is free to students on the East Side of Saint Paul, All students have progressed, most have made significant progress or achieved grade level. Our students are largely ELL students or experiencing circumstances that require individual attention. As a tutor, I can partner with parents, provide responsive lessons, encouragement and a mentoring relationships that often leads to deeper academic involvement. I can not emphasize enough, the JOY and LEARNING that takes place daily at the ESLC!

Our Mission

East Side Learning Center strives to be a major force in “unlocking each child’s potential through the foundation of reading.” The uniqueness of the ESLC program is expressed through six key ingredients: 1) one-on-one time with caring adults, 2) personalized lesson plans written by licensed educators, 3) progress monitoring, 4) certified tutors and trained volunteers, 5) programming embedded in schools and aligned with classroom instruction and 6) effective use of resources. The following core values (LEARN) permeate what we do: LOVING, affirming and respectful atmosphere EDUCATION that transforms, encouraging each child to reach the fullness of his/her potential ACCOUNTABILITY and careful stewardship of community resources RESULTS, driven by high quality, systematic approach and academic rigor NEEDS of children drive where resources are allocated