Everyone can use some help from time to time. That was the premise behind the National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society at St. Mary’s High School starting Wednesday afternoon tutoring.
Students from Catholic and other elementary schools come to St. Mary’s each Wednesday for one hour to work with a St. Mary’s student. The intention was to work with the students on their homework or on academic areas in which they needed assistance. But it’s become much more than that.
“I’ve really developed a relationship with each girl,” said Jessica Leckey, who has been helping the same students since the program started in October. “After working together they now talk with me about other problems like bully problems.”
Other tutors have had similar experiences. Beth Cichon said she’s worked with the same student and has seen the relationship grow. “It’s really touching how she talks with me,” she said. “And we have the appreciation of the parents, who thank us for helping out.”
Kelly Gardner, who is the NHS student coordinator for the program, has tutored brothers, one in the third grade and one in the eighth grade. She said that having the consistency of working together builds a comfort level.
“We talk not just about school,” she said. “The eighth grader is considering St. Mary’s so I help by answering questions about high school.”
That is an added bonus of the program, said Robyn Cross, director of admissions and faculty advisor for NHS.
“It also allows parents and younger students to become more aware of St. Mary’s,” Cross said. “They get to know the students and the layout of the school so this becomes a comfortable environment for them.”
Another benefit, said SMHS Counselor Pat Davis, is that she and Cross are learning more about the St. Mary’s students.
“Some of the tutors are athletes, and it’s fun to see them interacting with the younger kids,” she said. “It provides good leadership opportunities for our students.”
Cross said initially the elementary and middle school principals recommended students for the program. But now families are hearing about the program and checking it out.
Right now there are about eight or nine tutors who are helping 10 to 12 younger students.
“The program is in its first year, but we’re hoping to see it grow,” Cross said. “It’s got a lot of potential to grow.”
The tutors hope to see it grow as well and have some specific hopes for the future. Gardner hopes to see more communication between the tutors and the teachers at the elementary schools.
“I would love to see us getting specific things to work on with each student,” she said. “Sure we can help with homework but we can also focus on areas where the students need assistance.”
Along the same line Cichon, who is also a member of the St. Mary’s swim team, would like to have more teaching resources. “I want ways to prepare myself to be a better tutor,” she said. “At first it was like diving into cold water; I’ve had to learn how to teach them.”
Leckey hopes that more students will participate after learning about the program.
“I think a lot of students have needs but are too embarrassed to come,” she said. “I hope they learn that this is a safe place to find help.”
By Amy G. Partain, Communications Associate
St. Mary’s High School
Below, St. Mary's High School senior Jessica Leckey does one-on-one tutoring with a younger student during the Wednesday tutoring program at St. Mary's High School.