SIU seeking tutors to help schoolchildren impacted by COVID pandemic

File photo

May 20, 2022

SIU seeking tutors to help schoolchildren impacted by COVID pandemic

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may be felt in countless ways for many years to come, but Southern Illinois University Carbondale is launching an intensive, research-based tutoring program to support the children whose learning progress stalled because they were unable to attend classes as usual.

The university is now seeking tutors to work individually with groups of up to three children at several area school districts in conjunction with the Illinois Tutoring Initiative, a multi-university program from the Illinois Board of Higher Education. SIU is working with four area school districts to place academic tutors with children in grades 3-8 for reading and math and online high school math instruction.

All tutors will be trained and compensated. University students, retired teachers and community members, among others, are eligible to serve as tutors in the partner schools.

Southern Illinois among hardest hit

Christie McIntyre, director of SIU’s teacher education program, said the Southern Illinois region’s schoolchildren missed out on opportunities to engage meaningfully with the content when classes had to shift to online formats or make other changes. Also, some students weren’t able to readily access internet or other resources. In fact, studies found that nowhere in the state outside Chicago was the impact so strongly felt.

“There are 81 schools in our region that need additional support, who were disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” McIntyre said. This tutoring will be especially beneficial for them.

Initially, SIU is placing tutors in four school districts: Herrin, Carbondale District No. 95, Murphysboro and Cobden. McIntyre said officials hope to add additional districts over time as the program gets fully operational. There is already a waiting list of interested school districts.

Many tutors needed

In grades 3-8, tutors will work three hours each week for at least eight to fourteen weeks per semester. Tutoring will be in-person, mostly after school. The participating school districts will identify the students. Most tutoring will be one-on-one, although there will be some sessions of up to three students per tutor.

The goal is to build meaningful relationships between the tutors and the children, and the project includes monitoring the students’ progress, McIntyre said. Another key feature of this program is that the tutoring will be aligned with the school curriculum so students will be moving in the right direction to achieve the goals established for their peers and district.

Ideally, SIU would have 40 tutors for each of the school districts, McIntyre said. That means literally hundreds of tutors are needed over the course of the program, which initially will last two years and possibly be extended a third.

Training provided, associate degree needed

To participate, people must at have at least a high school degree and must pass a background check, which is paid for by the grant. They must also complete a five-hour online training module, created by Illinois State University.  

Tutors will be reimbursed through the grant at a rate of $20 per hour for teaching and planning time, or $30 per hour if teaching three children at a time. McIntyre said most tutors will likely earn about $800 per month. This project also offers a wonderful opportunity to have a positive influence on the life of a child and really make a difference, she said, and it’s a great resume booster for current SIU students.

Program administrators will match tutors and students, handle oversight of the tutors and serve as the research hub for the program. Anyone who is interested in becoming a tutor should email [email protected] for additional information or visit the website.