On Friday, November 2nd, CBL fellows and students preparing to mentor elementary and middle school students gathered in Dwight Hall for a tutor training session organized by recent Mount Holyoke graduate Sarah Chase. The students in attendance are either currently or preparing to work with students from grades 2 - 8 in after-school programs at the Peck and Kelly Full-Service Community Schools, as well as at the Homework House, all located in Holyoke.
The training session featured several speakers, each of which had invaluable advice and insight to share with the tutors-in-training. Speakers included Kathy Dunn, a teacher at the Peck school, Melany Mendoza, director of after-school programs at HCC, Alan Bloomgarden of Mount Holyoke College, and Melinda Pellerin-Duck, who taught for 27 years in Springfield and now works as Education Coordinator at Homework House.
The speakers emphasized the importance of literacy in the futures of the students. "If a child does not learn how to read by grade 3," Melinda recalls being told, "she is marked for the rest of her life." She and Kathy gave tips, suggestions, handouts and valuable insight from experience on to how to get the kids to read, how to structure a tutoring session, and how to keep them engaged (which can often be a tall order).
While teaching the kids to read is a large focus of the program, an even more important lesson for the tutors was in building relationships with students. As mentors, student tutors can have a big impact on the life of a child. The speakers at the session stressed the critical importance of that caring bond and how to cultivate it. It was apparent from the stories and enthusiasm of the current tutors that they are genuinely invested in and involved with the students' lives, and are gaining just as much from the experience as the kids at the Peck and Kelly schools.
Follow the link below to learn a little bit more about the CHOICES program, the CONNECTIONS program, and Homework House: