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Wildcat Tutoring teaches lesson of success

By Daphne Thompson
posted April 18, 2011

With second semester in full swing, an increasing number of students are turning to Wildcat Tutoring to stay afloat. The program, which had struggled in previous years due to a lack of awareness and commitment, has recently experienced an influx in participation from both tutors and tutees. Guidance counselor Tony Navis, a Wildcat Tutoring advisor, is satisfied with the program’s growing influence and its success at providing struggling students with a chance to find assistance.

“As far as feedback from tutors, they had a great experience this year and they’re expecting the grades of kids that they taught to go up,” he said. “The impact has been positive all the way around.”

The tutoring program currently consists of 55 rookie educators, up from just 14 last March. This participation boom can be attributed to an aggressive publicity campaign that broadcasted the benefits of tutoring to study hall students.

“It’s the reward you get from helping another peer in the learning process,” said Navis. “The process of teaching someone something else that you know, it’s a rewarding process. Not everyone can do that.”

Tutors, who teach during their Tuesday and Thursday study halls, must submit an application and commit to the program. Students with teaching aspirations are especially encouraged to get involved.

“I find it a good opportunity to work with a student one on one and get a little bit of experience,” said senior Steve Schauz. “It’s really encouraged my decision to become a teacher in the future.”

Wildcat Tutoring has indeed helped to foster a love of teaching in some of its mentors, providing them a safe place to hone their craft.

“When you start tutoring, it’s amazing how you start to learn your style of being a teacher,” said Navis. “Most students that didn’t really know how they were going to help can end up finding their own little niche and really becoming good teachers. It pushes some kids to go into teaching after high school.”

The tutees also reap the benefits of the program, with many seeing a turn around in classes they had previously experienced struggles in. Junior Caitlin Simonsmeier reported an upward turn in her Algebra 2 grades after enrolling with a tutor.

“For sure, it was a great way to get help,” she said. “I have come in at lunch, and I looked over problems I know I need help on. It’s definitely helped me improve.”

Students who wish to get some assistance through the program also have to sign an agreement guaranteeing thorough preparation for the sessions and a positive attitude throughout the teaching process.

“It’s a big responsibility for the tutor and the tutee,” said Navis. “They need to come with homework. A tutor is not just someone who’s going to sit down and give you answers.”

Valerie Aronson, honors study hall supervisor, is responsible for pairing the students. According to Navis, her selections have been widely successful.

“She has done a fabulous job of matching up the student and the tutor,” he said. “She has done that more on her gut instinct, and I doubt that she’s made one bad connection.”

Although the Wildcat Tutoring program has made great strides this year, the advisors hope to continue the trend into the future.

“Tutoring is only going to get bigger and better. Next year we’re looking for more,” said Navis. “We know there’s students out there that need help in school. Tutoring is here for you.”

Senior Erika Koch, an Algebra 2 tutor, found value in revisiting the math books of years past.

“I like refreshing my math skills,” said Koch. “I feel like I remember my stuff better, so it helps me in my math class because it’s like a review.”

Notably absent from the tutoring application is a GPA requirement. According to Navis, tutors should coach to their area of expertise.

“You might have a 3.0, but you might be awesome at algebra,” said Navis. “So you might be a great algebra tutor but you’re not doing well in the other subjects.”

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Members of Wildcat Tutoring pose for a picture on April 8. The program has experienced a large jump in student participation in the 2010-2011 school year.

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