Tutoring program builds bonds between neighboring schools

March 21, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

When Burleigh Manor Middle School opened next to Centennial High in 1992, no one knew for sure how students from the two schools would interact.

But since the start of a tutoring program last fall, the relationship has blossomed.

"I think we wanted to branch out to a more positive interaction between the middle schoolers and the high schoolers," said Lisa Boarman, a Burleigh Manor guidance counselor who oversees the tutoring program.

Members of Centennial High's National Honor Society tutor middle school students to earn community service hours.

The tutoring program was prompted by a need for inexpensive tutors at the middle school. Professional tutors can charge up to $30 an hour, Ms. Boarman said, but Centennial High students could accomplish the same result at no cost.

"We thought it would be really neat if we could tap into some of the kids" at the high school, she said. "These kids have the expertise to tutor in anything."

Each week, about 20 juniors and seniors meet individually with middle school students in the Burleigh Manor media center. Since the program began in November, Ms. Boarman said she has noticed improvement among Burleigh Manor students.

"We have seen them improve their grades and organization skills," she said.

One day recently, groups of students worked on subjects such as science, math and English.

At one table, 11th-grader Jessica Sutter and Molly Hutto, 11, pondered questions about the solar system.

The middle school student said she feels more comfortable asking questions and making mistakes in the presence of her tutor.

"If I make a mistake [in class] I'm embarrassed," Molly said. "I feel safer asking questions."

Elsewhere, 11th-grader Sean Stevenson helped Marty DeBolt, 12, understand the complexities of multiplying and dividing fractions.

The sixth-grader said the tutoring already has helped him.

"It brought my grades up," Marty said.

The high school students said they are learning just as much from the students they are helping.

Ryan Hughes, an 11th-grader who helps coordinate the program, said he is learning computer skills from the seventh-grader he tutors in English.

"Ben [Drucker] is a computer genius," Ryan said of the seventh grade student he helps. "He's taught me a lot. I teach him English, and he teaches me about computers."

The high school students said they also are learning how much they enjoy volunteering. The volunteer work is required to retain membership in the National Honor Society, which is open to juniors and seniors at Centennial with a 3.25 grade point average.

"I thought this was the most meaningful way to" fulfill community service hours, said junior Sean Stevenson, "trying to make someone understand what they don't understand."

Burleigh Manor officials are so pleased with the results of the program that they've invited a group of high school students to tutor about 30 pupils who failed the Maryland functional math test, which is required for high school graduation.

Middle school officials also are hoping that the older teens will assist with Burleigh Manor's intramural athletic program.

"We have a ton of stuff for them to do," Ms. Boarman said.

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