November 30, 2014

Organization combines track and field with tutoring and mentoring

By Brian Alexander, The Bradford Era

A boy practices hurdles as part of the Striders’ summer development program.

In 1979, friends and high school track teammates Daniel Feather and Ron Graham formed a small team called the Chadakoin Valley Athletic Club—a group aimed at giving local teens a constructive outlet through track and field. The next year, the club was renamed the Chautauqua Striders, and member Eric Healy became the club’s first athlete to win a national championship. Realizing the importance of cultivating strong academic skills along with athletics, the club’s founders added a tutoring program to help their athletes get into college.

Today, Chautauqua Striders works with more than 1,800 youths annually through tutoring, mentoring and, of course, the track club that got it all started. “Our goal is to help youths graduate high school inspired with the knowledge, skills and confidence required for successful college and career experiences,” says executive director Ben Lindquist, who joined Chautauqua Striders about a year ago, replacing the former executive director of 23 years.

Lindquist says Chautauqua Striders has between 30 and 40 participants in its middle school and high school track clubs each year. In July, the Striders sent six of its athletes to the USA Track & Field National Junior Olympic Championships in Texas, three of whom achieved All-American status. Striders also offers a youth development program every June and July forkids ages 5 to 12.

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Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community

November 26, 2014

IU aims to use 5 culture centers as tutoring hubs to reach more students, broaden horizons

By MJ Slaby, The Herald Times

In a sunny room at the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, graduate student Molly Gore waited to help students with writing assignments. Gore, a writing tutor, was at the culture center as part of an initiative to return tutoring services to Indiana University culture centers.

It’s been tried before, but the initiative – offering writing, math and science tutoring – is being renewed as part of the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs’ increased support for the five culture centers, The Herald-Times reported (http://bit.ly/1s4sN0Z ).

Launched at the beginning of the fall semester, the results so far are a mix, said Leslie Robinson, director of IU academic support centers, which are also under the DEMA umbrella with the culture centers.  “The overall numbers are not as high as we want,” Robinson said. But she said some students going to tutoring at the centers – Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, La Casa, Asian Culture Center, FNECC and GLBT Student Support Services – are students who have never asked for academic support before. “So we are reaching new folks,” Robinson said.

To Martin McCrory, associate vice president for DEMA, tutoring at the culture centers increases tutoring opportunities for all students – not just students in DEMA programs – which, in turn, increases retention and graduation rates. Plus, he said some students have never been to the centers. “They can come meet with tutors and pick up a little culture while they are there,” McCrory said. “There’s a lot to learn.”

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Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,College

November 22, 2014

MSU students work to boost Lansing area literacy

By Greg Monahan, The State News

One member of her staff refers to her as the “Mother Theresa of Literacy.” But Lois Bader claims she’s just doing what she loves. Bader is the executive director of the Capital Area Literacy Coalition and its Read to Succeed program, which is celebrating 30 years of helping Lansing area students develop literacy skills after the school day ends.

Every year, the Read to Succeed program recruits MSU students and gives them professional training to later take a child one on one for a semester to develop a struggling student’s literacy skills. College students can tutor as a volunteer opportunity or for class credit, and the program is free of cost to the students being tutored.

According to Bader, who started the Read to Succeed program in 1985, many of Lansing’s public elementary schools rank below the 10th percentile in regards to student reading comprehension. Bader said that puts them behind not just in reading, but in all other subjects, too. “Because of the reading problem in Lansing schools, we’re at the bottom of the state,” Bader said. “With math, if you can’t read the story problems, then you’re only going to go so far.”

Illiteracy has been an issue in Lansing for decades. Based on numbers she cited from the Capital Area Literacy Coalition’s website, it’s a near epidemic at many different levels of schooling. “This is extremely serious,” Bader said. “Half of the high school students in Lansing read at a third-to-fourth grade reading level. Half of them.”

The after-school one-on-one tutoring gives students the direct attention they need to progress faster than they would in a normal classroom, Bader said.

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Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community,K-8

November 10, 2014

$400K grant keeps Pottstown after-school program running

By Evan Brandt, The Mercury

Robin Romero, left, and fifth- and sixth-grade Principal Matthew Boyer help a student during the 21st Century after-school program at Pottstown Middle School. Photo Courtesy of Gail Cooper

An after-school and summer enrichment and tutoring program for Pottstown students will be continued and expanded as the result of a $400,000 grant award, Gov. Tom Corbett announced Monday. Funded through the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, the state issued a total of $23.1 million to 64 school districts and community-based organizations in 29 counties across the state. In Montgomery County, the only other organization to receive a grant was the Norristown Area School District.

“This is very exciting,” said Pottstown Middle School Principal Gail Cooper, who heads up the building where much of the efforts have been focused for the past several years the program has been up and running. The grants come in three-year increments and this is the third time the district has been awarded a grant. This year, the application written by grants writer Sue Yocum calls for expanding the program into both the high school and elementary school levels.

Adding younger students

“Ever since we moved the fifth grade into the middle school, we have a lot of fifth and six graders arriving at school and hour early, because they come with their older brother or sister,” explained Matthew Boyer, principal of the fifth and sixth grade portions of the middle school.

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Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Funding,Government,K-8

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