Lamar County School District partners with Paper to offer 24/7 online tutoring for students

The Lamar County School District has opted in to the Mississippi Department of Education’s offer to take part in 24/7 online tutoring through Paper, which through a statewide partnership, provides free tutoring for up to 350,000 students throughout Mississippi.

The initiative, which students can take part in by logging into the option with their school email addresses at www.lamarcountyschools.org, was approved by the school district’s board of trustees at the April 11 board meeting. The program is currently active and ready for sign-ups.

“We’re always looking for any ways that we can help provide support for our students,” said Steven Hampton, superintendent of the Lamar County School District. “This is a way that our students can have access to certified tutors to help them with problems that they face when their teachers aren’t around.

“It was a no-brainer, when this opportunity with the Mississippi Department of Education came up. We felt like it was just one more layer that we could provide to support our students in their learning. It will be a supplemental thing when students are at home; if they need help with homework of any type, they can log in … and have access to tutors online.”

The tutors on Paper – who are made up of college students, Ph.D. candidates and teachers – are trained in the Socratic method of teaching, which is based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions. That method is made up of four key steps: eliciting relevant preconceptions, clarifying preconceptions, testing one’s own hypotheses or encountered propositions, and deciding whether to accept the hypotheses or propositions.

“(Tutors) will not give students answers, but they will help them come to get to that answer,” Hampton said. “They’re not there as someone to tell them the answers; they are there to (help the students) find the answer for themselves.”

Students can receive tutoring in any and all subjects for which they may need help. There is no face-to-face interaction, and names and pictures are not used so as to create a safe environment for students.

“It’ll just be icons and emoji-type deals, and each student will have a code name, or an alternate name that they can log in with,” Hampton said. “There will be a whiteboard space where they can type or write the question or problem they have.

“There will be verbal and written communication between the tutor and the student.”

In addition to being able to log in via the school district’s website, officials also are looking into adding a shortcut into the Chromebooks that are provided to students. The Chromebook ration in the Lamar County School District is 1:1, which means that every student in the district has received such a device.

“We’re looking at trying to make it easy for them to access that,” Hampton said. “(The program) is ready now, and they can access it at any time.”

Paper has partnered with state, district and site leaders in more than 30 states to meet the needs of every member of a given school system. The tutors adapt their support to meet and exceed grade-level expectations in every subject.

The company directly employs and manages all tutors to ensure that students have safe and positive experiences during every session.