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Tutoring program boosts students
by Heather Smith
Oct 19, 2013 | 41 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Corinth Elementary School fourth graders Eduardo Diego (left) and Abby Usener take part in an after school language arts activity. / Staff photo by Steve Beavers
Corinth Elementary School fourth graders Eduardo Diego (left) and Abby Usener take part in an after school language arts activity. / Staff photo by Steve Beavers
Elementary school students are at the age where discovering which study skills are going to work best for them so that they can benefit the most from their school lessons is very important.

There are some students who might need more help than others understanding their daily lessons in the classroom. Corinth Elementary School has started taking part in a program that will greatly benefit students who want to gain a few more hours of learning time a few days a week. Their results so far have been astounding.

This after school tutoring will be available to first through fourth grade students who wish to participate. This year there have been 80 new students enrolled in their after school program. There are specific teachers assigned to be the after school instructors. There are a total of 11 teachers with two per grade. There are also two computer lab instructors and one coordinator.

Cindy Wilbanks teaches first grade math while Abigail Strickland teaches first grade language arts. Haley Bingham teaches second grade language arts and Breonica Porter teaches second grade math. Third grade teachers include Allison Cornelius for math and Jennifer Taylor for language arts. Finally, fourth grade teacher Amy Chandler handles language arts and Rich Hinton teaches fourth grade math. Their leader is site director Jennifer Dickerson.

Their program has a primary goal to encourage learning. They hope that this tutoring will reinforce skills that were taught to them earlier in the week. One of the main goals is to provide intervention to struggling students and get them the extra help that they need to keep up with the other students.

"No one gets left behind," said Dickerson.

Another main goal for this program is to close the achievement gap that has been developing over the past few years. It is their desire to keep all of their students either at or above their grade levels.

It is scheduled for the program to begin every September or October of each school year. It will come to an end in the second week in May. Students are given Fridays off. It is held from 3:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

This program is not restricted to just those students who teachers believe are in need of extra help. It is available to all first through fourth grade students and each student wanting to participate must have a parent sign and return a form stating that it is okay for the student to stay after school.

After school tutoring is kept on a schedule just like the rest of the school day. Students begin in the computer lab and stay there for thirty minutes. At 3:45 p.m. they make their way to the cafeteria for a healthy snack provided by the school. At 4 p.m. some of the students will go to the math teacher or the language teacher. Thirty minutes later they swap classes, that way each student gets an equal amount of time with each subject.

Corinth Elementary School started this program to achieve a specific goal: to close achievement gaps. These are gaps in a student's comprehension that tend to hold students back in class which ultimately effects their overall grades. These after school lessons are geared toward giving them more individualized, one-on-one instruction that they might not be receiving during the regular school hours.

It was not the parents, or the teachers' idea to begin this program, but the Corinth school district. They were introduced to the "21st Century Learning Programs" and they received a federal grant to start the program.

Although the primary goal of the program is that the students participating will benefit academically from going, the parents will also benefit from this after school program. The students will be targeting specific skills during these lessons. They will be focusing on skills that they are struggling with in their daily lessons and be able to catch up with their classmates. Parents will also benefit from this program. Their children will be receiving free tutoring from the teachers that they already trust.

Teachers are already beginning to see the results that they have been hoping for. So far these results have been positive as the students are improving in the areas that they were once struggling with. Most importantly, the children are enjoying it. They want to come to the after school programs because there are not as many students and it gets them out of that every day routine that can sometimes become numbing and they do not learn if they are not inspired to do so. As the program progresses, the teachers are beginning to see a difference in the students who are participating in the after school tutoring program.

Some may be wondering what the students think of having to stay after school and participate in more lessons instead of going home to relax. Their reaction to the program may be surprising. Students enjoy the program because it does not feel like tutoring. It has become a different learning experience than the normal lessons that they receive five days a week. These lessons are designed to be more hands on and interactive learning experiences.

Their teachers use what they call "manipulatives" in these lessons. Manipulatives consist of art projects, drawing, writing stories, and other fun activities in which the students learn a lesson, but have so much fun with it that they do not realize that they are actually receiving an important lesson. Their learning tools are more concrete as opposed to abstract words in a book. This program teaches language arts through art projects in which the student tells a story. They are more motivated to learn because it is student centered, they turn the story into their own lesson.

Transportation by bus takes the children home at the end of the tutoring sessions and they are always given a healthy snack before leaving. This results in more students participating because their parents would not have been able to pick them up that late in the day. It is this relaxed atmosphere that gets the students excited about staying after school to participate in more educational activities.

This after school program has had astounding effects. Teachers say that those who participate have more connection to school. They are targeting children who do not have a support structure at home. They seek out children who need guidance and support and they accelerate their learning. Teachers are also hoping to keep more students from falling behind in the classroom.

It is the sincere hope of the teachers involved in this remarkable program that what they are doing with these children at the end of the day is truly paying off. They hope that each student leaves the tutoring sessions with a better understanding of the material than they had when they came in. It all goes back to no child left behind. Teachers are required to do everything in their power to ensure that all of their students receive a quality, wholesome education every time they enter their classroom.

"The program keeps their light on until dark," said Principal Brian Knippers.

Hopefully that desired result is what will come out of the hard work and dedication of not only the teachers who stay after school to help these children, but the children who put forth the extra effort that is required for them to succeed.
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