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Volunteer Tutors Gave Kids 40,000 Hours

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With the close of the school year today, children of the Ann Arbor Public Schools will have had the benefit of 40,000 hours of individual tutoring, provided by 150 parent volunteers. The cost to the system is low, approximately 29 cents per hour of service. That goes to cover the salary of the tutorial program coördinator and supporting services. The volunteers theraselves make do with the personal satisfactions of the task and a letter of appreciation at the end of the year. But the benefits to the students, however difficult to measure in concrete terms, would seem to be large. "If you believe in individualized instruction, then you almost have to believe in the tutorial program," says Barbara Inwood, principal of Dicken Elementary School. It's a way of getting the extra hands you need." A student may be assigned to a tutor when, for any of a number of reasons, he is not achieving as much in his regular classes as he could be. Assignment of a student to work with a tutor may be requested by a teacher, social workers, principal, parent or even the child himself . Tutors may request to work with small groups or directly in the classroom, but the large majority - work with two or three students on a one to one basis. They meet with each child twice a week during the school day, for a half hour to an hour. The tutorial program stresses providing the student with a supportive adult tionship as well as direct help on reading or mathematical skills. "In this fragmented world, kids need to know that there are a number of supportive adults arouñd them," says san Newman, coördinator of the tutorial program. ;u u "And the tutors often provide us with important insights into a child's special needs and problems that teachers or principáis busy with many other children don't have time to explore " she adds. "We have numerous cases where information provided by a tutor has enabled us to get specially needed help for individual children." The tutors themselves are a bit cautious in describing what they achieve with the students they work with Says Joan Scott, who has tutored three boys at Clinton Elementary School this year, "In order to be successful directly in terms of academie [ progress, I think you'd have to meet with each child daily. But a lot of good things come out of the relationship. "If you establish a relationship that helps the child funetion in other ways, maybe including academie improvement, then tutoring is a success. "Some days the boys and I have worked really hard. Other days we've just sat and talked, and I think those days were important, too," she says. Mary Effinger volunteered to work as a tutor at Clinton when she heard that there were not enough black adults for black children to relate to Now working on her own college degree and hoping to [S mto teaching exceptional children at the preschool I el, Mrs. Effinger says she has always loved working with very young children, but I wasn't sure whether she'd like working with older students as well. , But she has really enjoyed workmg this year with fourth grader Monique Proctor, and I the feeling seems' to be I al. When Mrs. Effinger had a flat tire and couldn't make it to one of their sessions ■ cently, Monique was furious. "You should've come anyway," she told her. She and Monique really have something going now, Mrs. Effinger feels, and she would like very much to work with her again next year. Teachers, tutors, students and their parents have been surveyed to evalúate the tutors' efforts and most are happy with the results, says Mrs. Newman. More "objective" data is hard to come by and even harder to evalúate, but prea n d post-tests on students working with tutors were conducted this year at Wines Elementary School. Kathy Moody, h e 1 p i n g teacher and tutorial coördinator at Wines, is frankly "excited" by the results. "We're seeing some children who haven't progressed at all for several years making gains of up to a year," she says. The Arm Arbor schools first acquired three volunteer I tors in 1965 and began a I neighborhood volunteer I gram on a pilot basis in 1968. I Federal Title I funds to hire á I tutorial coördinator were I tained the next year. With the beginning of active I recruiting and easing of anl earlier restriction on parents working in the schools their own children attended, the number of volunteers quickly jumped from 20 to the present - level of 150. Parents now may work in their neighborhood school, but still are not assigned to their own children's classes. Qualifications for volunteer tutors do not include degrees, special talents or elabórate skills, but rather a commitment to work regularly twice a week with the students for the whole school year. The tutorial program provides guidelines to help the tutors in their work and has - attempted to provide training workshops at the schools where they work. "There is no training package for volunteer tutors generally available," says Mrs. N e w m a n , "and no funds - available to develop one locally." Instead, she says, the program has relied on the re. sources of the individual schools. At Wines Elementary School the tutors and teachers meet once a month over brown-bag lunches to discuss ideas, methods and problems. Dicken Elementary School has conducted three workshops this year where teachers have given "live" demonstrations showing how to determine what areas the student needs help in, how to use teaching materiaïs, how to reinforce learning skills and how to buifd the student's confidence. Workshops conducted by reading consultants at Clinton have been video-taped to provide the beginning of a training paekage for all tutors. Additional materiaïs and equipment for the use of the tutors have been donated by I several of the schools' PTOs. The future of the tutorial . I program is unclear in this I era of budget cuts and reorganization, b u t the parent volunteers have proven loath to give up their newfound ' volvement in the educational process. When the junior high and high school tutorial programs were cut back this past year to concéntrate limited resources at the elementary j el, a number of parents insisted on continuing the work they hadstartedinthe secondary schools. "Their enthusiasm and involvement is so great you just can't stop them," says I bara Inwood. "They're I ways asking for more training I and talking about 'When I I come back next year. . . .' " I "It's really incredible how I much we rely on these I pie," says Mrs. Newman. I "We ask them for the moon I andtheyj'iveit" ■ VOLUNTEER TUTORS (CONT'D. )