BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Communications Director
WEAKLEY COUNTY (January 10) – Ninety local educators will join a bank of thousands of online tutors to address the learning gaps of Weakley County students as two initiatives are launched this week.
After School Scholars is the area program deploying current, retired and student teachers as well as educational assistants to work individually and in small groups with students in grades 1-12 on identified deficits. Tutors were enlisted in the fall and completed training last week to begin the twice weekly option held at each school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for 90 minutes. More than 450 students were invited to participate based on test scores, classroom performance and whether or not they were already receiving intervention. To date, 313 have committed to the optional program.
The After School Scholars program includes access to tutor.com, a service by The Princeton Review, the leading tutoring, test prep, and college admission services company in the U.S. With a network of more than 4,000 teachers and tutors, online resources, and more than 150 print and digital books, endeavor comprises a community of thousands of tutors who have delivered more than 20 million one-to-one tutoring sessions in its 21-year history.
Referencing his history as a successful basketball coach, Weakley County Schools Director Randy Frazier commended the gathering of 90 teachers and administration staff for the additional effort required to launch such a program, “Some of the most success I ever had was working with one or two players at a time. That made the biggest impact.”
“We have an opportunity to serve students that have always needed that one-on-one attention or in much smaller groups to work on specific skills. And we have the opportunity if this works well, we may have access to this money every year,” he added.
Angie Rushing, the director of the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) 3.0, oversaw the recruitment of tutors and school leads who will be housed at each school in the county for the in-person tutoring experience. She has also worked to establish the relationship with tutor.com and will serve as an administrator of these efforts for the remainder of the school year.
ESSER funding is covering the cost of the tutors’ stipends and compensation for the leads as they ensure tutors are on site, buses have the transportation information they need, and snacks are available.
ESSER funding is also making available the high-quality, instructional materials and online services prepared and referenced by instructional supervisors Terri Stephenson and Donald Ray High and coaches Megan Moore and April Fishel at the recent training.
“According to research of tutoring programs, student achievement increased by an additional 3-15 months across grade levels,” Moore told the group as she introduced and reviewed the goals of the after-school program, which will focus student growth in English Language Arts for Grades 1-4 and Moore’s subject matter, Math, for Grades 5-12. While Moore will be available to assist elementary tutors as she does county math teachers, Math Coach Wes Morgan will be accessible to middle and high school tutors.
In her remarks to the gathering of educators, Stephenson underscored the importance of relationships.
“The most important part is collaboration with the classroom teacher,” she told the group. “The classroom teacher will tell you what skill the student is lagging on. Then you must build a relationship with the student. If your student trusts you, they will grow exponentially.”
Fishel addressed tactics that tutors should employ, “Mirror tutoring instruction to what is happening in the classroom. Ask how the classroom teacher is teaching a standard and follow that approach.”
As tutors assist with homework, the ELA coach cautioned, “Don’t give answers. I know it’s tempting. Instead, provide feedback that allows students to come up with the answers.”
Tutor.com, a component of the after-school option that allows participants to access tutoring throughout the week and in the evenings, is also available to Weakley County Schools students who would like homework help or feedback on essays.
“We are using a highly recommended online tutoring service that we first heard about from our university partners who use tutor.com for dual enrollment,” Rushing said. “We know that some students may need just a bit of help with a math equation that is stumping them or with perfecting a paper. Tutor.com allows us to further customize instruction for our students so that those who may have missed a class or work better in the evening will have access to high quality instruction.”
For questions on tutoring options, contact the school counselor or Angie Rushing at firstname.lastname@example.org.