Volunteers tutor, mentor East Grand Middle School students " Granby
Grand County, Colorado
East Grand Middle School Counselor Lynn Cassidy and local environmental engineer Jane Tollett started a school tutoring/mentoring program this fall.
Community members volunteer to help sixth- through eighth-grade students with subjects that pose difficulties for them. About 40 students participate in the program, C-Squared (Core Competencies), either during homeroom or after school. Some students need one-on-one attention, while others just need to be monitored to make sure they’re completing their school work, Cassidy said.
Tollett started assisting students in math last year.
“I wanted a stronger connection between the community and school,” she said.
Tollett enjoys helping Alan with math. Sometimes the conversations drift, and then they have to focus on math again. It’s challenging and rewarding, she said.
“He’s just so funny and interesting,” she said. “I’m glad to help him. His mom says it’s a help … Every kid is different.”
She also created an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of when students are supposed to come and if they do attend. Right now attendance is at about 80 percent ” sometimes students don’t attend because they are absent from school or have a sports event.
About 10 adult volunteers participate in the program, and Cassidy and Tollett hope to gain more volunteers so students can work one-on-one with their mentors. Right now it’s about two-to-one, Cassidy said.
“We’re always looking for more volunteers,” she said. “Anything they can do on a consistent basis … You’re building relationships too.”
In addition, Cassidy said the volunteers are “high-quality people.” They include two retired math teachers, an engineer and lawyer. High schoolers also volunteer after school or during study hour and earn community service.
Tollett said children enjoy it, and the Parent Advisory Committee donates money for snacks.
In addition, Cassidy said it serves as a mentoring program. Staff has commented that not only are grades higher, but students ability to relate to adults has improved.
“A lot of our success stories are not just academic,” Tollett said. “There are many adults they can connect with … (Students) feel important.”
If the students say they have nothing to do, the mentors can double check on the school’s Web site to see if they should be working on anything. Parents and tutors access the page by clicking the homework tab.
An online grades tab also shows students’ grades. Parents and students also can call a hotline to find out the homework assignment for the night after 5 p.m., (970) 887-3382.
Teachers have referred students to the mentoring program as part of the response to intervention program the district is promoting.
Many teachers also are available after school. This allows the mentors and students to talk to the teachers if they have questions about an assignment, Tollett said. “The teachers here work really hard.”
“We want to (teach) students to talk to teachers and be self-advocates,” Cassidy said. “There’s always things you can do to improve. I’m sure next year (the program) will be even better.”
Tutors include: Cindee Arduino, Derrick Howard, Jeanie Kemp, Kathleen Kemper, Whitney Kemper, Bob Miller, Lisa Von der Haar, Jaymes Woode, Kari Swan, Curtis Brown, Cassidy and Tollett.
” Katie Looby covers government and education for the Sky-Hi Daily News. You may reach her at 887-3334 ext. 19601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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