Photo: Century College alum Pa Houa Her at Jackson Elementary School.
White Bear Lake, Minn. (March 31, 2011) – Century College alum Pa Houa Her of St. Paul is loving her work as a member of Minnesota Reading Corps, a statewide program to help every Minnesota child become a successful reader. A teaching assistant in the professional corps at Jackson Elementary School in St. Paul, Her’s focus is introducing the alphabet to four and five-year-olds so that they are able to learn to read more easily.
“My dad was a teacher in Thailand, and I always wanted to be a teacher,” said Her, who was in the Education Club at Century when she was a student there.
She said Century Prof. Andrea Coffey was instrumental in helping her establish a goal to seek a career in education. A service learning project at Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul reinforced her decision.
Her said many of the pre-school children selected for the Reading Corps program at Jackson know little English when they first come to school. “We have a lot of conversation with the children and help them learn the sounds of the letters,” said Her. “Once they recognize the alphabet, the next step is recognizing words. The kindergarten teachers tell us it is really helpful to give the students this experience. Going to kindergarten is much easier for them if they have had this exposure.”
Born in Thailand, Her, 24, came to the United States with her family when she was four years old. She went to elementary school in Minneapolis and then switched to St. Anthony Elementary in 6th grade. She graduated from Arlington High in 2004.
Her attended Century College from 2004 to 2006. She was hired at Jackson after teaching Hmong dance at the school. She started with the Reading Corps in fall 2010.
“I really love what I am doing and I love the training I have received,” said Her. “It is awesome to work with little kids and to be their first teacher.
Attending Century College is a tradition for Her’s family. Her’s sister, Phia, 26, has was in Century’s dental assistant program, and her younger brother, Kiamee Chai, 22, is a current Century student. “In my family, everyone goes to Century,” said Her. “It is more affordable and there are many programs and majors to choose from. It’s a good place to start.”
More than 600 Minnesota Reading Corps tutors are serving in more than 400 schools across Minnesota for the 2010-2011 school year. Corps members receive a modest living stipend, an education award and other benefits.