Monday, March 9, 2009

Cabrini-Green Tutoring

Last Wednesday, I had the great privilege of visiting Cabrini-Green Tutoring, which is our sister tutoring program that serves students grades one through six who are from the Cabrini-Green area. Cabrini-Green Tutoring started at Montgomery Wards, moved to the New City YMCA and now has its home at the St. Vincent De Paul Center. This is a great location because Cabrini-Green tutoring has the advantage of being able to readily utilize De Paul Students, such as Sky, their program coordinator who is also a senior at De Paul.

Cabrini-Green Tutoring is structured very similar to how our program works here at Cabrini Connections. Students come on buses or are dropped off by parents between 5:30 and 6pm. They get a snack, and sit quietly in their seats until their tutor/mentor comes. They then work with their tutor/mentors on schoolwork or complete life skills sheets for points. Life skills sheets teach kids basic skills such as how to write a check, or how to take their pulse. After completing these activities, students and their tutors have a wealth of resources - games, books (both fiction and non-fiction), and grade-appropriate work sheets that supplement what they're learning in school.

Other ways for students to earn points is for the kids to turn in report cards and to have regular attendance. At the end of every quarter, students can go to a "store" that the program sets up that "sells" things such as Christmas ornaments around the holidays, or school supplies.

One thing that I was really impressed with was the level of experience of many of the tutors. Tutors sticking around for 8 years is not uncommon. For some tutors that means starting with their students in first grade and continuing on with the student into another program such as Cabrini Connections until high school graduation. For others, it means starting with a new student after their old student graduates because they enjoy working with elementary school students so much.

Students are also encouraged to engage in supplemental activities such as career day, which was last Monday. Students had the chance to learn about various jobs by visiting places as different as the Emergency Room at John Stroger Hospital, to meeting an executive at the Midwest division of the men's magazine GQ, housed in one of the top floors of the John Hancock building. Students are also encouraged to write essays that explore things they're interested in and possible careers they would like to explore.

Cabrini-Green Tutoring houses over 250 students and are probably going to make it to 300 students in the coming years. I was extremely impressed with the level of dedication of the staff and volunteers and the enthusiasm of the students. Thanks to Erin, the program director, Sky, the program coordinator, and Meghan the volunteer coordinator who showed me their wonderful program.

Also, to all the runners reading my blog (and who should sign up for the Chicago Marathon and run it on behalf of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection with me!): Cabrini-Green Tutoring is having a fundraiser called Legs for Literacy, which is a 5k run or walk on Saturday May 17th this year. Everybody should sign up and run on behalf of tutoring and mentoring.

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