Tutors Make a Difference
KOMU's Krystle Brooks shows us how the program has a profound effect on kids.
Story time is enhanced for these young readers at Midway Heights and Fairview Elementary schools.
About 250 tutors spend time each semester improving their skills."I think a lot of times we forget that it's not just about, math or reading or writing, but it's also about being someone that a student can trust," explained tutor Dusty Luthy.
And having trustworthy mentors expand the program to almost every elementary school in Columbia.
"I would just love if we could have twice as many tutors," said program director Kristi Miller program director."The demand is out there we always have, there will be teachers that ask for a tutor and we weren't able to give them one."
About 55-60% of the tutors are paid through the MU work study program, with the remaining portion volunteers.
The program began in 1997 with the initiation of the America reads initiative. The initiative was designed by president Bill Clinton to improve the reading skills of kids.
The Columbia program started small with just a few schools participating.
In 10-years the program has grown significantly and now helps at the adult learning center. Everyday students give their time to A Way With Words, but once a year A Way With Words gives back, with a banquet honoring their service.
Tutors gathered at this event which recognized the program's graduating seniors.Some like dusty have been with the program for four years.
"It was very comfortable and very relaxed when I started, and now we have a lot more training, we have tutor meetings every two weeks, where we develop ways to become better tutors. Ways to help kids at the school," said Luthy.
As a veteran tutor for Mrs. Holman's class duty offers advice to her replacement.
"Probably the biggest advice is just to get to know the teacher and the classroom, because by developing a relationship with the people in the classroom, you open yourself up to more opportunities to help."
And the program hopes it will continue to help students for another ten years.
Ridgeway is the only Columbia Public School that does not use the program.
Officials of the program say they have asked but the school hasn't shown any interest.
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