Heart-to-Heart Tutoring Celebrates First Anniversary | Webster Kirkwood Times

Heart-to-Heart volunteer tutor Marie Andel works with a student in the program. | photo courtesy of Heart-to-Heart

Born in the heart of the pandemic, the Heart-to-Heart tutoring program is now celebrating the completion of its first year of offering free tutoring services to elementary students in Kirkwood School District.

“In two years, our program has grown from just an idea to a small group of tutors doing online tutoring via Zoom, to 19 tutors doing weekly one-on-one in-person tutoring,” said Verneda Carrier, volunteer coordinator of the program. “It is very gratifying, and the students just love it.”

Heart-to-Heart tutoring is a consortium of Kirkwood-area churches and community members. 

“We are a group of volunteers —retired teachers, educators and tutors — who are passionate about helping children. We support elementary school children, with a special emphasis on reading,” said Carrier.

The organization partnered with the Kirkwood School District to identify children who were not at grade-level in their learning and were falling further behind during the pandemic.

“Our main goal is to build relationships with the students, but our secondary goal is to get all the students reading at grade level,” volunteer tutor Kathy Ury said, noting research has shown that if a child is not reading at grade level by third grade they never catch up.

As a retired teacher, Ury is also responsible for training the tutors. 

“We wanted to be sure that all tutors have the tools and training they need to be successful. You don’t have to have a background in education to tutor,” she said.

The weekly tutoring program is held after school at the Lemmie Education Center, which is part of First Baptist Church of Meacham Park. 

“This has been a long term dream of mine to see our children get the help they need,” said Genevieve Hodges, one of the program’s volunteers and a lifelong Meacham Park resident. “We are really grateful to the Kirkwood School District for partnering with us on this program, including busing the children here after school.”

Those interested in volunteering can call 314-966-8167 ext. 133 or email  [email protected]