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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU service learning project assists both college and elementary students

Students at New Mexico State University now have the opportunity to further their knowledge, gain experience and improve children's education with the College of Education's Aggie Tutor Partnership service learning project.

Mary Prentice, assistant professor in the department of educational management and development, told the students at the beginning of the semester that the program would change their lives and that they would change the lives of others.

"The outcomes of this program are phenomenal," Prentice said. "Learning is increased, as well as civic awareness and engagement."

Students taking designated sections of the EDUC 181 Field Experience I course provide 16 hours of reading and/or mathematics tutoring to elementary students over the course of the semester.

The goal of the program is to provide assistance to elementary teachers both through the placement of tutors and through the monitoring of tutor effectiveness by staying in close contact with the elementary teachers to immediately address any problems.

Prentice added that program coordinator Denise Strawn, a graduate assistant in the department of educational management and development, was pivotal in carrying out the program and was largely responsible for its success and that the program would not have happened at all without the partnership provided by Elizabeth Marrufo, director of elementary instruction at Las Cruces Public Schools.

The first group of NMSU education majors and elementary students to participate in the program were recently honored at a celebration at the NMSU Corbett Center Student Union.

"We actually get experience working with the kids," said Robert M. Wright, a junior majoring in secondary education. "It's a nice change of pace."

If you ask the NMSU students who participated in the program, they'll tell you what they enjoyed most was interacting with the children.

"Working with the kids was the best part of being a tutor," said Nathan Barreras, a sophomore majoring in secondary education. "They are excited to see you and you can feed off of their energy."

"The children run up and hug you when you get there," said Vanessa Walker, a junior majoring in secondary education. "It's really gratifying, the feeling you get from seeing them progress."

The program was made possible by a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service and Central New Mexico Community College. In addition to NMSU Las Cruces, NMSU Grants, Santa Fe Community College and the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) are participating in the project.

In order to continue receiving funding for the proposed three-year program, it must meet various performance measures. These measures include 60 percent of children improving in the areas of reading and/or math to the current or next grade level.

The program is coordinated by the department of educational management and development at NMSU and is conducted in cooperation with Las Cruces Public Schools and the NMSU Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

This event is part of NMSU's continuing outreach efforts to help educate and improve the lives of citizens in our community and state.