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Students honored for their participation in tutoring program

‎New Mexico State University College of Education undergraduate students participating in the Aggie Tutor Partnership, a program that partners students and local elementary schools, were honored May 1 at the Fulton Center.

The tutoring program was started last semester by the Service Learning office as a way to give undergraduate education students a more interactive field experience by taking EDUC 103/181.

"In the past, undergraduate students would go into a classroom and observe for their field experience," said Denise Rodriguez-Strawn, the service learning coordinator. "Now they can do more than just observe, they can enter into Las Cruces elementary schools as a tutor."

Students participating in the program are carefully selected. Rodriguez-Strawn said they select education students who either know that they want to be a teacher or education students that are not sure if teaching is the career they want.

Rodriguez-Strawn said that by working one-on-one or with a small group, NMSU students are able to see and understand what it takes to be a teacher and know if that is for them.

Last semester, 19 students participated in four elementary schools in Las Cruces. This past semester, 55 students participated in 10 elementary schools in Las Cruces. Each tutor must work a minimum of 16 hours during the semester.

During the ceremony, 55 student tutors were honored for their work. Also, two individuals, Kymbre Hayes and Sharon Kovacs-Finch, received a U.S. Presidential Service Award. This award is given to those that have conducted more than 100 hours of service to the community in a one-year period. This is the first time an NMSU student has received this award.

Keynote speaker for the awards ceremony was Christine Woods, who had been involved with the program and had three tutors in her second-grade classroom at Hillrise Elementary School.

"I care deeply about the Service Learning program, more specifically the tutor program because I have witnessed first hand the impact it has had on the lives of our students and the future teaching professionals from NMSU," Woods said.

Other key people in the development of the program that were honored were Mary Prentice, educational management and development assistant professor and service learning director; Gary Ivory, EMD department head; and Connie Rickenbaker, professor of EDUC 103/181.

"The NMSU students are getting into the classroom sooner than they otherwise would and are gaining an understanding of what their future career actually looks like," Prentice said.

Rickenbaker said the tutoring program is a win-win situation for the public schools and the students receiving the tutoring and for NMSU students who gain an experience in teaching.

The Las Cruces elementary schools that are currently participating in the tutoring program are Alameda, Conlee, Desert Hills, Dona Ana, East Picacho, Hermosa Heights, Highland, Hillrise, Sunrise and University Hills.

Rodriguez-Strawn said that since they have accomplished their short-term goal to be in about 50 percent of the elementary schools in Las Cruces they would like to expand the field experience to other NMSU colleges and to also branch out to other classes, including secondary education.

She added that four sections of EDUC 103/181 will be offered during the Fall 2008 semester.
‎"The shoes that the students left in the first semester were huge and the students of this past semester have set the bar even higher," Rodriquez-Strawn said.

If you are interested in joining the Aggie Tutor Partnership, contact Rodriguez-Strawn at (575) 646-3593 or harley@nmsu.edu.