"Miss C! When are the tutors coming back?" That sentence is a straight-up symphony to my ears. Welcome to the "Achieve" program, where myself, a teacher and other school personnel work with our at-risk freshmen at Como Park Senior High School. The students vary in personality, background and social skills, but they all have one thing in common: something has kept them from being academically successful and often they are failing multiple courses. It could be from learning challenges, economic and social disparities, a language barrier or a lack of basic study skills. Whatever the reason, they are placed in the Achieve program and we make every effort possible to make sure they succeed in their freshmen year.
Rock Star Supply Company is an enormous component to this recipe for success. Every Friday, the smiling faces of our Rock Star Supply C. volunteers come in the classroom and I get to pair them up consistently with the same students. We do a little warm-up activity, and then the rest of the hour is devoted to precious work time, where kids pull out assignments they need to finish or material they don't understand.
Commence Rock Star Supply Co. Fridays! I look around the room and see my students bent over their worksheets, nodding and smiling as their Rock Star Supply Co. coaches them on. They don't just do schoolwork; they get to learn about each other's lives and form a bond. If school work is finished, we let them play games together or talk about post-secondary options.
Our students are certainly academically capable; however, many of them find it challenging to concentrate independently for more than 10 minutes at a time. While teachers practice the delicate art of varied instruction and implement a variety of activities in order to maintain students' focus, nothing impacts a student's ability to concentrate more than a one-on-one tutoring session. Most of the time, they just need someone to sit with them and assist them in staying on task.
The relationship piece to volunteer tutoring is on an equal level with academic assistance. It's impossible for school staff to form a relationship with every student who walks through the door, especially when a teacher has over 120 teenage students to teach, assess and coach. Having a volunteer enter an urban high school and create a consistent and meaningful connection with a student is immeasurable. The students get that valued one-on-one attention which, in their everyday lives, is scarce.
Friday ends, the weekend comes and goes, and classes begin once again on Monday. I hear rumblings in the background of how much they wished they had a tutor today. I smile and tell them I am wishing the same thing. Everyone looks forward to Rock Star Supply Co. Fridays.
Maria "Miss C" Cocchiarella is the Intervention Specialist at Como Park Senior High School.