In high school, students are relentlessly searching for volunteer opportunities. Whether they are members of a club that requires service hours, seeking to complete a portion of their college applications, or just generally looking for a way to help others, many students are eager to volunteer within their community.
At Leesville Road High School, the Leesville Community Tutoring Program, headed by Wendy Smith, is off to a great start this school year.
The program started almost a year ago, in January of the 2012-2013 school year. Smith got the idea from her church which had already initiated a similar program. Having two children herself who attended LRHS, Smith wanted a way for both high school students and younger kids to connect with each other and the community. Smith researched further and found that many students were entering Leesville Road High School below grade level in reading and math. Smith also wanted a “campus wide way for high school students and middle school students to connect.”
After the high school bell rings, students venture to the middle school and check in with the welcoming front office. Tutors have around an hour to work on their own homework or decompress in the library. At 3:30, tutoring begins for middle school students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. The ratio of tutor to student differs every week, usually with one tutor assisting one or two kids. After almost an hour spent with the middle-schoolers, the tutors pack up and end their afternoon at the elementary school – where most tutors have groups of second and third graders.
From my experience, most of the middle school students ask for help in math, while time is best spend reading with the elementary-age kids. The program doesn’t just focus on getting the homework done and getting out, tutors form relationships with the kids they tutor every week.
Smith said, “[The program] is not all about high school students getting service hours. It’s also about role modeling.”
The program will end for the first semester in mid-December and will restart in January. Smith hopes for more subject-specific tutoring and an increase in one-on-one assistance.
As an active member of the program myself, tutoring is not just for expanding my college resume or gaining more hours for Key Club. Tutoring is about making friendships and connections with fellow tutors and younger kids.
As Elizabeth Berg says, “There is incredible value in being of service to others.”