Students helping fellow students make gains in academics

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Mark Gniewek, EEV leadership development teacher and retired educator, and Lear consultant Geraldine Whiteside prepare a group of six potential tutors for tutoring sessions with Clark students.

Mark Gniewek, EEV leadership development teacher and retired educator, and Lear consultant Geraldine Whiteside prepare a group of six potential tutors for tutoring sessions with Clark students. / Voice of the Ville

Juniors and seniors enrolled in the Leadership Development course at East English Village Preparatory Academy have earned part-time jobs tutoring students at J.E. Clark Preparatory Academy in mathematics. Student tutors travel by school bus four days per week and tutor Clark students in grades six through eighth. The tutoring sessions with each student lasts approximately 35 minutes. Each student tutor receives $8 an hour and DPS community service credits required for graduation. The Lear Corporation, a Southfield-based auto supplier, donated $1.5 million to fund the three-year program and pays the wages of the student tutors. Lear and the schools have partnered with a financial institution to open bank accounts for direct deposit, and financial literacy programs will be created for the students. The DPS Office of Nutrition provides nutritious snacks and refreshments.

Mark Gniewek, EEVPA Leadership Development teacher said Lear chief executive Matt Simoncini, who attended Clark, started the program because he wanted to help his former school increase its math scores and improve the community surrounding the school. According to Gniewek, EEVPA students interested in the position must qualify in five areas: good attendance record, successful interview, score proficiently on various math tests and assessments, maintain a minimum 2.7 grade-point average and successfully completing the instructional techniques and expectations training taught in the course.

These requirements differ from the first year of the program because students were scheduled into the class as a regular elective. Some students enrolled in the class were experiencing difficulty meeting the math benchmarks and needed to review sixth through eighth grade skills. Lear has hired at least three retired educators as consultants to help Mr. Gniewek train the student tutors and pull them into small groups to master skills so they are ready to tutor the Clark students.

“Sometimes you need to review something you haven’t done in a while. But, when you study it again, everything comes back to you,” said Debrayah Williams, an EEVPA 12th grade tutor and honor roll student enrolled in the course. “It is an excellent program and I know we are doing a good job because the students tell us they are glad we are helping them and their teachers tell us their math scores are increasing.”

The tutoring program has helped Clark and East English Village student tutors make academic gains. They will be honored at the 21st Annual National Tutoring Association Conference, April 5-9 in Tampa, Fla., as New Tutoring Program of the Year.

By Charmain McElrath

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