Like many parents, Sarah Mendonca knew the virtual and hybrid models adopted by public schools would be challenging for many students. The potential for the achievement gap between students to widen this year was all too real.
Mendonca, who is relatively new to the community, is an experienced teacher with a PhD in Educational Leadership. She knew of successful tutoring networks that were in place in other communities and therefore decided to get the ball rolling on the formation of a similar network for our community.
“I knew that there would be many community members who would like to offer assistance to students remotely,” noted Mendonca, “and my instinct was to connect them with students who need support. This is a time for innovation and connection, and I have confidence that we can rise to this challenge by harnessing volunteer power to meet the needs of our young people.”
The result is the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro Tutoring Network, a new collaborative initiative preparing to launch in early October. With the financial backing of the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, and under the supervision of the Staunton-Augusta YMCA, K-12 students will have free access to small-group tutoring sessions, initially offered online exclusively.
Thanks to a partnership with Mary Baldwin University, many of their college students will participate as tutors, either through the College of Education or the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement. “Collaboration is fundamental to our identity. We are thrilled to partner with community based organizations, our local schools, and passionate individuals to provide a service that will benefit our K-12 students. We are in this together,” shared Dr. Tynisha D. Willingham, Dean of the College of Education at Mary Baldwin University.”
The new service will require many volunteer tutors from the community in order to serve the local student population. Individuals with teaching experience would be ideal tutors, but others with a college education and a desire to help are also welcome to volunteer their time.
Community members interested in becoming a tutor can email firstname.lastname@example.org and register for one of several upcoming Information Sessions.
Students and their parents interested in learning how to participate in tutoring sessions should follow the Staunton-Augusta Family YMCA on social media for more information.
“Although much of the money contributed to our COVID-19 Local Response Fund has been needed to help residents avoid eviction and put food on the table for their families, we also recognized very early that the pandemic could have a devastating impact on the education of children in our community,” shared Dan Layman, CEO of the Community Foundation. “We are very grateful to have the resources needed to make the new Tutoring Network a reality.”