Tutoring fun, rewarding

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 16, 1999

Decorating Mrs.

Tuesday, November 16, 1999

Decorating Mrs. Larson’s fourth-grade classroom for fall, Cassie Luna and Jason Gordon hang a border of leaves and acorns. But while they’re having fun and being helpful, they’re also getting graded.

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The Southwest Junior High students are two of 35 ninth-graders this semester who take part in the school’s crossage tutor program.

Crossage tutoring is an elective offered to ninth-graders at Southwest. The students spend one class period each day at Sibley elementary school for one semester. They spend the entire semester with the same elementary class, but their duties change to fit the needs of the classroom.

In the program, ninth-graders help in K-5 classrooms, the lunchroom or the media center. They assist teachers with tasks, and work with students on special projects. They also give students individual attention and help them with assignments.

Brenda Morris, dean of students at Southwest, said the Junior High’s proximity to Sibley is what makes the program possible.

The schools have been using the tutoring program for at least seven years, but Morris said participation has increased from an average of 15-18 tutors per semester to this semester’s 35 students. Morris believes this is due to the efforts of Steve Jordahl, and also due to an increased need for help in the classrooms. She said the tutors allow the teachers to &uot;plug in a lot of holes&uot; that were left in the wake of last year’s Title 1 funding cuts.

Morris said Sibley’s teachers have done a good job of using the tutors to help in their classrooms, but working with tutors is not the same as working with teacher’s aides.

&uot;One of the things I’ve tried to stress with people is these (tutors) are not adults,&uot; she said. &uot;They do as well as you guide them.&uot;

Most of the students get A’s in the class.

&uot;They do a good job,&uot; she said.

Morris believes that tutoring younger children boosts the ninth-graders’ self-esteem and teaches them to be role models.

&uot;These kids just adore these tutors,&uot; she said.

Tutors benefit from their work in other ways as well. Cassie Luna practices Spanish as she helps a fourth-grade child with his English, and Eric Hutchison is learning skills he hopes to use in a future career as an elementary school teacher.

&uot;I think it will give me skills to work with kids,&uot; he said.

Morris pointed out that students who have a harder time with school work can be excellent tutors, &uot;because sometimes they can relate better to kids who struggle.&uot; She also believes it is beneficial to those tutors who have less trouble with class work.

&uot;It kind of humbles them,&uot; She said.

Tutor Megan Cambern said the hardest part of tutoring is &uot;when the kids don’t understand what is going on and you have to explain it to them.&uot;

Emily Domke agrees that helping children with assignments can be frustrating. She said the best way to explain things to students is to &uot;try a different method.&uot;