The IN has already reported on ECARE’s tutoring program and its good results (ricksblog.biz/good-report-card-for-ecare). It’s encouraging to see how a weekly 45 minute tutoring session can go a long way.
The set-up is pretty laid-back. Volunteers sign-in at Global Learning Academy, check their child out of the pre-k classroom and choose a topic to explore for 45-minutes to an hour. The setting has cubicles with tiny, four-year-old sized chairs, clear, plastic bins stacked against the wall and a long hallway outside the classrooms that the children usually prefer to chairs.
Executive Director of ECARE, Ashley Bodmer has taken on the task of tutoring when at last minute a volunteer had to quit. Since every child at GLA has a mentor, Bodmer couldn’t leave one child out.
“He is so bright,” Bodmer said. “He’s a negotiator. He’ll say ‘So, we’ll read three books today.’ He could possibly be an attorney, although we were talking about how to be an astronaut the other day.”
ECARE is already recruiting for next year’s group of pre-k students. Volunteers will have the option of staying as a reading pal for incoming pre-k kids or staying with the student they’re currently tutoring throughout their GLA career.
Katelyn Gillespie, a graduate student at UWF on the ECARE Research Team is chasing her student down the hall. She tutors two children and has just finished her double session. The experience has taught her two things: she doesn’t want to be a teacher, but she does want to continue volunteering in various ways even after she leaves the Pensacola area.
“They’re opening up more,” she said with a smile. “We worked on emotions today. I got the little girl to smile. The boy took to the emotions very well – he’s going to be an actor.”
For anyone interested, volunteering doesn’t take up too much time. After your initial training sessions, you commit to one weekly, 45-minute to an hour session. You can even partner up with another volunteer and meet every other week.
Tristan Harper, an attorney with Moore, Hill & Westmoreland P.A., has partnered up with another attorney at the law firm to tutor. He’s only been tutoring since the end of November, but he already knows how he’d like to improve as a tutor.
“I’d like to come in better prepared – talk to a few friends that teach and get more supplies. Kids sometimes get bored,” he said.
Harper has already decided that he will take on more uncharted territory next year.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with him,” Harper said of his student. “He’s probably better equipped than most kids. Next school year, I’m tempted to take on someone who’s more at a disability learning wise.”
Volunteers keep track of their child’s progress in colorful folders. Detailed notes are given to teachers to help record progress. ECARE, of course, hopes to expand, but not until they have a model that works perfectly.
“We want to grow smartly,” Bodmer said. “We don’t want to bite off more than we can chew.”
To learn more about ECARE and to sign-up to volunteer, visit: