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Students and tutors at the Church of the Covenant


Case students help area kids pass standardized tests
Stanley Evans, Staff Reporter
The Observer, January 26, 2007

Every Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., elementary, middle school, and high school students fill the basement of the Church of the Covenant on Euclid to receive tutoring from community volunteers.

The Saturday Tutoring Program at the Church of the Covenant relies heavily on Case students. About 85 percent of the volunteers are from Case, CIA, and CIM. The program is organized around the Case academic year.

Currently, there are two students for every tutor. The ideal ratio, according to Louise Steele, a program supervisor, would be one student to one tutor. One on one sessions would allow the tutors to adjust instruction to the pace of each student.

Volunteers are given an orientation before they are placed with students. They are shown the various resources and given pointers on how to tutor the students.

Volunteers also receive advice from the various supervisors with teaching backgrounds. Linda Wilson, a program director, is a retired English teacher. Claudette Ollie is a retired librarian and certified teacher.

Ollie sees tutoring as an opportunity for both the students and the volunteers. "[The Saturday Tutoring Program] helps [volunteers] with interaction with young people. It exposes them to a diverse population of both age and ethnicity," she said.

Brendan McGrail, a sophomore at Case, sees the Saturday Tutoring Program at the Church of the Covenant as a way to get involved in the community. "It's important we contribute to Cleveland . . . I don't have the financial wherewithal to build a building, but I can do this," he said.

At some of the tables, students used K'Nex to construct models. When a student erected a working carousel, Wilson, Steele, and other supervisors gathered to offer encouragement.

For the elementary and middle school students learning is facilitated not only by worksheets, books, and flashcards, but also by toys, puzzles, and games. Laugher and talking filled the basement throughout the morning. "All the noise you hear is productive," said Ollie.

The Saturday Tutoring Program was started in 1990 when Ohio began issuing proficiency exams. Many students at John Hay High School were not able to pass these exams and move on to the next grade. Wilson, at the time head of John Hay's English Department, teamed up with volunteers from the Church of the Covenant.

Initially, volunteers from the Church of the Covenant and the community would travel to John Hay High School to tutor students. When the program was expanded to include students of all ages and schools, the program was [held] to the Church of the Covenant.

Tutors and directors of the program now focus not only on the Ohio Proficiency Tests, but also on the SAT and career plans for high school students.

Each student has a different level of ability. Some need help mastering basic skills in math and reading, while others excel in most subjects. Progress of the students in various subjects is tracked from week to week.

Christopher Hill, nine, was at his first Saturday tutoring session with Case freshman, Mankie Chu. The two have been working on two-digit multiplication and division. Chu told Hill about a similar program he did in Columbus. "You mean you came all the way to Cleveland [to tutor me]?" said Hill.

Sara Marshall, a senior at Case, and Chase Hamler, seven, had been working on reading through out the morning. "I love kids," said Marshall.

"Yeah right," said Hamler.

Marshall poked him and the two laughed. "They do very well when they work," said Marshall squinting her eyes at Hamler. "I like to watch them succeed."

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