Service in Retirement

Service in REtirement: A Returning MEmber’s Perspective

Interview With Jackie Nelsen, K-3 Reading Corps Lead Interventionist

My name is Jackie Nelsen and I am 63 years young. Besides working with children, of any age, I love gardening, bird watching, reading, sewing, doing jigsaw puzzles, coloring and camping with family. As you can see I like to keep busy.

Q: What initially inspired you to serve with K-3 Reading Corps?

A: Seven years ago my husband was transferred to Alpena. I was a Para-Educator at the time and decided to retire. I did not think I would miss working with children as much as I did, so when the opportunity came to serve with Reading Corps I knew this is what I wanted to do.  I made so many connections during my first year of service and watched so many children grow that I wanted to come back to serve another year.

Q: What do you do on a day-to-day basis and how does this help support kids in your community?

A: My day is never quite the same. I am at a small K-5 school and my schedule is different every day. That keeps me on my toes and the day interesting.  With the teachers and internal coaches help we make it work, and I get to help 15 children grow each day.

Q: Do you have a success story you’d like to share?

A: I am thrilled that so far this year 9 children have exited the program. When they exit the program I get both smiles and frowns. Many smile because they have reached their goal but also frown because they do not want to stop coming to Reading Corps every day. I feel that the daily tutoring helps to support them and let them know someone cares about how they are doing.

Q: How has your service impacted you? What skills have you gained?

A: The best success story is seeing a child begin to “get” reading! The smile on their face makes my day. Many come in with no self-confidence and say they can’t read. When they begin to see that they can read and they are more confident in themselves, it makes me feel that I have achieved something too. I have gained as much as the children.

Many of my kiddos have made me laugh, but this one made my day. We were reading a story about Jake, and after reading it they started reciting the “Jake from State Farm” commercial. They knew every line and we both laughed. Now, when we see each other in the hall we say “Jake from State farm” and laugh some more.

Q: What is one thing that you want people to know about being a K-3 Reading Corps Interventionist that they might not know?

I would like people to know that being a K-3 Reading Corps Interventionist is very rewarding, but it also takes commitment and organization.