USF students tutor middle and high school students to help kids and receive teacher training in the process.
By Laura Kneski
TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 28, 2013) –When a child struggles in class, but goes unnoticed sitting quietly behind row after row of classmates, it’s difficult for teachers to recognize and assess the problem.
This is the type of situation that may call for a tutor – someone who can aid the student with one-on-one assistance in order to more thoroughly convey the concepts that haven’t yet been grasped. Perhaps the student doesn’t like teachers, or maybe he or she just needs the subject explained in a different way.
The above describes one of the goals of University of South Florida’s Tutor-a-Bull Program. Each semester, about 100 students in the USF College of Education sign on as tutors. They work at 20 Hillsborough County middle and high schools, spending four hours each week meeting with several students.
The program is a win for all involved. The grade school children benefit from connecting with a mentor on a more personal level. USF students get hands-on experience performing what will soon be their careers.
Rick Guadalupe and Michael Ithrel, eighth graders at Webb Middle School, have noticed improvement with their mathematics studies since receiving help from their tutor. Guadalupe is now more comfortable with figuring out problems in pre-algebra; Ithrel feels the same about his algebra curriculum.
“When I was little in elementary school and sixth grade and all that, I would groan at the sight of math,” said Ithrel. “But now it’s just another subject.”
Olin Mott, a philanthropist and the owner of Olin Mott Tire Stores, founded the program. As the co-founder of Friends of Joshua House Foundation Inc., a shelter for abused and abandoned children, Mott decided to pilot Tutor-a-Bull there in 2007 with the help of USF Professor Colleen Kennedy, the former dean of the College of Education.
With the acquisition of tutors and 20 new computers, the shelter’s atmosphere made a noticeable improvement. Mott said that it gave the children “something to do besides be mad at themselves and mad at their parents,” and they could instead build their self-esteem.
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