Michigan Education Corps’ Beginnings
An Interview with Renee Borg, Director of PRogramming and Operations
Renee Borg, Director of Programming and Operations has worked with Michigan Education Corps (MEC) since its inception in 2012 as Michigan Reading Corps. In our conversation, we discuss MEC’s beginnings and statewide expansion and what that means for Michigan students.
Q: How did you first become involved with what is now called Michigan Education Corps?
A: We first considered launching Reading Corps in Michigan back in early 2010. The former VP of Community Investment at Heart of West Michigan United Way (HWMUW) learned of Reading Corps in Minnesota. After many conversations with MN, HWMUW staff, Michigan Community Service Commission and local school districts, Reading Corps launched in three schools in Kent County in November 2012. Tom Bobo and I were involved with Reading Corps from the start given our roles at HWMUW in the area of education, which was a core focus at HWMUW at that time. Michigan was the first state to replicate Minnesota’s Reading Corps model. In July 2013, Reading Corps moved from HWMUW to Hope Network – an organization with a statewide footprint that allowed for Reading Corps expansion.
Q: How has the program grown and changed since 2012?
A: The program has changed significantly over the years:
- We started in three schools in Kent County, and the following year we expanded to serve multiple districts and schools the following year. Now, we serve over 80 schools in 70+ districts.
- We grew in staff from two to seven people, with additional business partners at Hope Network to support the infrastructure of the program.
- Reading Corps became an umbrella program when the name was changed from Reading Corps to Michigan Education Corps (MEC); to promote both Reading and Math proficiency.
- While K-3 was the initial focus of in Michigan, PreK Reading Corps and Math Corps were added a couple of years later to the MEC portfolio.
Q: What is the significance of that programmatic growth and what does that mean for student growth in Michigan?
A: Because of our expansion, more students are able to be served using evidence-based, targeted interventions in reading and math. Our goal is to close literacy and math achievement gaps across the state, and since 2012, we have served over 14,000 students statewide.
Q: You’ve been with the program since it launched. What keeps you motivated to work with Michigan Education Corps?
A: While I don’t see students on a daily basis, I work closely with Master Coaches, who help support implementation in the school, have access to student data, and see growth in students. Even though it may only be on paper, seeing the data that indicates student growth and hearing stories from Master Coaches keeps me motivated and helps me see the big picture. I feel fulfilled knowing that I have an impact in student growth, even if it’s in the background.
Q: What is one thing that you want people to know about Michigan Education Corps?
A: MEC has a heart to service students from PreK through eighth grade. MEC is about student growth in reading and math, while providing committed AmeriCorps members (Interventionists) who have a heart for service and passion for education. MEC is about connecting people with purpose.
Join our mission to empower Michigan kids to reach highest level of academic achievement in reading and math by becoming a partner school or interventionist! Click here to receive more information.