May 31, 2010

Tutoring benefits seniors’ health, students’ skills

By David Crary, The Associated Press, originally published in USA Today on 4/4/2010

BALTIMORE — For 73-year-old Rosetta Handy, and the second-graders who dote on her, it’s a 50/50 proposition, with winners all around.

“They help me as much as I help them,” said Handy of her volunteer work as a tutor at Belmont Elementary School in a low-income West Baltimore neighborhood. “They give you energy. You learn psychology all over again.”

Recent research indicates that Handy knows of what she speaks — documenting significant health benefits for the tutors.  Handy, who worked many years for the Social Security Administration, is in her fifth year with the Experience Corps, a program operating in 22 cities nationwide that trains volunteers over 55 to tutor and mentor elementary school students.

Roughly 2,000 volunteers currently work with about 20,000 students, but the Experience Corps — buoyed by positive feedback and encouraging research — hopes to double its scope within five years.  The program’s concepts have seemed promising ever since it was founded as a pilot project in 1995, but new academic studies have validated the optimism that it’s a boon for the volunteers as well as the students.

  • A two-year, $2 million study completed in 2009 by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, involving 881 second- and third-graders in three cities, found that students with Experience Corps tutors made over 60% more progress with reading comprehension and sounding out new words than comparable students not in the program.
  • Separate studies by Washington University and by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that the tutoring led to measurable improvements for the volunteers — compared to adults of similar age and demographics — in physical activity and mental health.

One small-scale study reported in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences last year — which included sophisticated neuroimaging of 17 study members over 60 — including eight Experience Corps volunteers in Baltimore — suggested that tutoring young children in reading and math could delay or even reverse brain aging.

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Filed under: Community,Leadership

May 25, 2010

Student leads tutoring program for low-income

By Julia Ferrante, originally published on the Bucknell University web site on March 29, 2010

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Julie Kohn was considering ideas for her Girl Scout Gold Award project in 2007 when she found out one of her childhood friends had dropped out of high school.  Growing up in Allendale, N.J., outside New York City, Kohn took for granted that she and just about everyone she knew would pursue a college degree.

“All around me were very educated people in the suburbs of New York, but I didn’t think of all the people who don’t get their high school diplomas,” Kohn recalled recently.

So Kohn set out to start a general education diploma tutoring service, with her childhood friend as her first client. The program soon expanded to about a dozen tutors giving one-on-one help to GED candidates near her hometown. This past fall, Kohn, now a sophomore at Bucknell University, brought the program to the Susquehanna Valley. The program pairs individuals in low-income housing neighborhoods and the surrounding Lewisburg community with college students and professors.

A chemical engineering major involved in band, choir, pep band and a Harry Potter-inspired club called Dumbledore’s Army, Kohn coordinates the tutoring program, called PROGRESS or Providing Resources for GED and Returning Education Students.

Meeting needs

Each client is given a book to help them study for the two-day GED test and personalized tutoring sessions, usually at their home. Many of the clients, who range in ages from 17 to 67, are single mothers who dropped out of school because of family issues or job challenges. Most need help with English as a second language and with basic math. One asked for help applying for a driver’s license.

“The 67-year-old woman had not studied from a text book for 50 years,” Kohn said. “A lot of them are looking for personal accomplishment or a salary increase.”

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Filed under: Leadership,Small Private Practices

May 17, 2010

Tutoring academy founder earns state honor

Originally published in on 3/78/10

The U.S. Small Business Administration has named Beatrice Hair, founder of Salisbury Tutoring Academy, the North Carolina Small Business Person of the Year for 2010.Hair was nominated by Jenifer Flatley of the University of Phoenix Alumni Association.

Salisbury Tutoring Academy tutors students in all subjects, adult literacy and standardized test preparation. It specializes in working with students with Attention Deficit Disorder and dyslexia.

Winners from 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam will travel to Washington, D.C., in May to mark the annual celebration of National Small Business Week. One person will be selected as National Small Business Person of the Year.

To be honored, the person must have a substantiated history as an established business, growth in number of employees, innovativeness of product/service offered, response to adversity and contributions to community-oriented projects.

Hair spent eight years teaching elementary school. Her turning point occurred when a boy in her elementary school class had heart surgery and fell behind in his studies. She tried to tutor him, but her teaching and school duties consumed all her time. She knew there were many more students like him who could benefit from “one-on-one” tutoring.

In 1996, she opened Salisbury Tutoring Academy, operating out of her home and using classroom space at a church. She had a few teachers signed on as tutors. She outgrew that space and moved into the current location at 818 Corporate Circle, where she now oversees 25 teachers.

The company’s income has grown steadily as it streamlined business systems to create an efficient scheduling and automatic billing system. In 2007, Hair founded a sister company, Salisbury Tutoring Academy Franchise Group and has sold two franchises, with a goal of selling 1,000 nationwide.

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Filed under: Business Practices,Small Private Practices

May 6, 2010

At Compton school, teen tutors and adult students learn from each other

by Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, originally published 3/22/10

As part of a Compton Adult School tutoring program, adults trying to pass the California High School Exit Examination get an assist from Palos Verdes High students.

Brandy Rice eyed the test question.

Instead of playing multiple-choice roulette with the answers as she had so many times before, she followed the directions. Rice, 26, was one of 20 Compton Adult School students in a tutoring program for the California High School Exit Examination. The tutors weren’t teachers, but teenagers from Palos Verdes High School.

The tutors carpooled from the green, laid-back beach community on a hill to Compton every Saturday for five weeks. Most had never before been to Compton and weren’t used to getting up at 7 a.m. on a weekend. But their students taught them a thing or two about hard work, commitment and life.

Senior Daniel Bethencourt, 18, who spearheaded the program, said tutoring adults broke down an assumption: It isn’t easier to pass the exit exam when you’re older.  “Your life accelerates once you get out of high school,” said Bethencourt, who is headed to Yale University in the fall.

For the adults receiving tutoring, life has moved fast. Many have children and jobs. They are supporting family or taking care of ill relatives. But they all have the same regret: They didn’t get a high school diploma.

Marlo Williams, a stand-up comedian who said she has worked with Martin Lawrence, stopped going to high school at 16. She would have graduated in 1986, well before the exit exam became mandatory. At 18, she started caring for relatives’ five children. Williams said not finishing school is “something that will weigh on a person with a conscience.”

She doesn’t remember math being so complicated. “This math is totally different from the math when I was going to school,” she said. During one tutoring session, Williams sniffled and fought back tears as her tutor, John Powers, attempted to explain fractions. She apologized for being absent-minded. She had two deaths in her family that week. She thought of what her tutor directed her to do: Read the entire sentence. Read all the answers.

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Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community,Peer-Tutoring


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