GV’s K-12 connect tutoring program expands


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Sara Collins, Staff Writer

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Grand Valley State University’s President Philomena Mantella saw an opportunity to help the campus community connect with schools around the state by offering a network of support. After piloting tutor support in the summer and spring of 2020, GVSU discovered the main need for K-12 students was homework help. Following this, K-12 Connect was created in the fall of 2020. The program is a gateway for the university to actively pursue and connect with students, faculty, and parents within K-12 schools through tutoring.

For the first running year of K-12 Connect, the only program available was free Homework Help tutoring run by volunteers from the university. This year, K-12 Connect is welcoming two additional new programs to offer more help for K-12 students and create quality jobs for GVSU students. The two new programs will include Homework Help Plus and Targeted Reading Tutoring. Both programs will be offered in K-12 schools by GVSU students.

K-12 Connect’s Lead Amirah Vosburgh presents the two new programs and the valuable aspects this expansion will bring to the program. 

Vosburgh said Homework Help Plus adds additional factors to Homework Help tutoring by guaranteeing the school tutors for their students.

“It is K-12 homework help tutoring for anyone who needs it, but it’s contracting with schools to get tutors who will be designated to them,” Vosburgh said. “For example, tutors who will only work with the students in their school’s specific subjects or grade levels and at specific times.” 

The second part of the expansion, Targeted Reading Tutoring, is designed by GVSU faculty, the GVSU College of Education in the literacy department and reading specialists to put emphasis on teaching literacy properly. 

“What they found when they volunteered last year was that students were showing up and needed help in reading, but unless you were a reading teacher, you didn’t really know how to support them properly,” Vosburgh said. 

The contracted Targeted Reading Tutoring recruits and hires tutors- students from GVSU- who in return get an additional level of training around how to teach reading properly. The tutoring revolves around aspects like vocabulary, comprehension and sound manipulation.

“It creates a structured space. If you’re a second-grader, you’re going to meet with your tutor four times a week for thirty minutes,” Vosburgh said. “There’s going to be a lot of engagement and motivation involved.”

The university pays students to tutor within K-12 connect, in hopes that it creates more opportunities for experiential learning.

“The volunteers are getting that experience of working with students prior to getting their jobs,” Vosburgh said. “During your college career, while you’re learning all of these things, you then have the option to put it into practice.” 

In addition to helping students with valuable employment, the program is in the middle of creating a credentialing piece around literacy. College students who tutor in this program can prove their competency and put a fully credentialed piece on their resume, Vosburgh said. 

K-12 Connect is always looking for volunteers to make the program successful. All students are welcome and do not have to specifically be a part of the College of Education. Although, students who are applying to the College of Ed may use these hours for their needed contact hours with students. 

Since the official start, the program has run over 15,000 tutoring sessions and has serviced over 2,400 students throughout the state.

Every single one of these was free and powered by the state,” Vosburgh said.

K-12 Connect continues this year in hopes the new expansion will further support students in all levels of learning and continue to provide college students with jobs that will help them grow and gain valuable experience