Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wolfe Street Academy Workforce Tutors Students

Every day last September, as we eased in the school year and started the after school program, 5th grader Mario would ask “when’s my tutor coming back?”

Mario’s tutor, Linnea Zimmerman, is a student at the The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who has been meeting with Mario on a weekly basis since he was in 3rd grade, to help him with reading and math skills.

Linnea is a member of The Wolfe Street Academy (WSA) Workforce, a volunteer program run by students at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine since 2006. The program has grown every year since then, and now includes volunteers from The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and The Johns Hopkins Department of Biomedical Engineering as well.

Mario has a strong connection with Linnea , and in the time he has been working with her he has improved academically to a point where he is ready to successfully graduate both from elementary school, and from the tutoring program.

This school year, 35 Wolfe Street Academy children are receiving individual weekly tutoring services, mostly from graduate students with the Wolfe Street Academy Workforce. Fourteen of the tutors have tutored at WSA for two years or more.

Deborah Apple, a 3rd grade teacher who is actively involved in the program, has noticed the value of having seasoned tutors returning for a second year or more.

“It is wonderful to have so many second year tutors at WSA this year. The relationships they build with students and academic support they provide are invaluable for both struggling students and their teachers,” said Ms. Apple.

Many of those second year tutors are medical students, and in a few weeks they will be moving on to the next phase in their own education – hospital rotations and studying for their Board exams!

The current group of graduate student leaders have taken action to both retain volunteers and make sure they have the skills necessary to help young tutees overcome challenges.

In spring 2011, when she assumed leadership of the program, Sara Fuhrhop began a recruitment campaign to immediately replace those second year medical students who had started their rotations.

“The second year medical students have truly enjoyed working with the students at Wolfe Street Academy," said Ms. Fuhrhop.

"As future physicians, we must be effective teachers and altruistic partners with our patients. Our experiences as tutors at WSA have reaffirmed these values and have taught us so much about how to embody these qualities in our future careers."

Recently, tutors Paul Gilbert and Julia Thorn organized a panel discussion about ADHD and education, which included WSA special educator Katrina Kickbush, a psychologist from The Baltimore Lab School and a child psychiatrist from Hopkins Hospital.

They discussed the difficulties that kids, teachers and tutors face in educating children with ADHD and other special needs.

The efforts are paying off! Last year, NWEA testing showed that children in individual tutoring, all of whom have a history of struggling academically, grew academically at an equal rate with their peers who did not have a history of difficulties.

We would like to thank the students from The Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health and Bioengineering for supporting our students. We will be recognizing all of our tutors with two or more years of tutoring at our Family Night on February 15th.