The Tutoring, Reading, and Enabling Children (TREC) program began in 1997 as the result of a grant written by Rod Oto and Carol McCannon at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Initial grant funding for TREC was awarded to the University of Minnesota, Morris from Minnesota Campus Compact. These funds supported TREC from 1997–2000 and continue to support TREC initiatives.
The academic year 2000–01 was the first year of shared funding. Financial support came from UMM through the Center for Small Towns and from the Morris Area Public Schools District.
TREC today continues to be a collaborative effort. Support for TREC comes from the University of Minnesota, Morris, Morris Area Public Schools, Morris Area Community Education, and the Stevens County Collaborative.
Rod Oto served as the initial principal investigator of the TREC program, a position now held by Sandy Olson-Loy, vice chancellor for student affairs. Pam Solvie was appointed TREC coordinator in 2006.
Through a grant written by Olson-Loy and Judy Kuechle, Division of Education chair, TREC was expanded to Willmar, Minnesota, in 2007–09. Grant funds were awarded through the President’s Initiative on Children, Youth, and Families at the University of Minnesota. Willmar TREC offered opportunities for students in grades 4–6 to work on literacy skills in a two-week summer school workshop.
Pam Solvie, TREC coordinator, proposed the on-campus Literacy TREC Track (LTT) program in spring 2009 in Blakely Hall. In keeping with the literacy focus of the TREC program, Literacy TREC Track was designed to focus on literacy skill development. LTT was specifically designed to target striving readers in grades kindergarten through three. The program was also designed to increase collaboration between UMM and the Morris community.
Those involved in early discussions about the proposed initiative included: Chancellor Jacquie Johnson; Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean Cheryl Contant; Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Sandy Olson-Loy; Associate Professor of Education and TREC Coordinator Pam Solvie; Morris Area Elementary School (MAES) Principal Brad Korn; Director of the Special Education Cooperative Todd Travis; Special Education Cooperative Literacy Coach Jody Maanum; Morris Area Community Education Director Cindy Perkins; Morris Area Public Schools TREC Coordinator Steven Sterud; MAES Reading Intervention Teacher Sheila Anderson.
LTT involves elementary students working one-on-one or in small groups with trained UMM LTT work study and volunteer students. The campus setting provides a special focus to the program. Being on campus may help students envision themselves being University students one day.
Explicit instruction in reading strategies and extensive training is provided for the TREC tutors, both paid work study students and volunteers, prior to working in the program. Weekly meetings build on initial training and support continuous program improvement. Trainings also work against the historical model of “this worked for me” and “this is how I was taught.” For example, those who teach often like school and do well in school—struggling students may not have this same outlook. Struggling students benefit from explicit and systematic instruction in multiple areas of reading including phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.
LTT started in fall 2009 with openings for 20 students in grades kindergarten through three with support from the University of Minnesota, Morris, Morris Area Public Schools, the City of Morris.
A Ramp-Up-to Readiness Grant supported a summer school LTT program that served 27 students. The program ran June 7–July 16, 2010, and was based in the Humanities building. The grant will continue to support the program through fall 2010 and spring 2011 in LTT’s new location in Briggs Library.