ATC Fellow Launches After-School Tutoring Program

Fellows Mere Rowlett, left, and Isabel Anderson are pictured at a professional development event for Arkansas Teacher Corps.
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Fellows Mere Rowlett, left, and Isabel Anderson are pictured at a professional development event for Arkansas Teacher Corps.

Isabel Anderson realized a few weeks into her first semester as a fourth-grade teacher at Little Rock Preparatory Academy that her students would benefit greatly from one-on-one tutoring.

Anderson is a 2015 Fellow of the Arkansas Teacher Corps program based in the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas

"Students simply had different needs," she said. "Some needed help with reading, some with math or science – and the period I have set aside for working on these things individually left me feeling overwhelmed. There just wasn't enough teacher to go around."

She took a proactive approach to address the need.

"Once I found out that most private schools required community service from their students before graduation, I called every single private school in Little Rock trying to find student volunteers to come and tutor in my classroom," Anderson said.

Eventually, she connected with Lisa Conyers, the community service coordinator for Episcopal Collegiate. Within a week, the tutors – high school students from Episcopal – began arriving in her classroom every afternoon. 

At one point there was a tutor for almost every student, providing help that Anderson said has been a pivotal part of her students' progress this year. She acknowledged that it wasn't easy at first as she tells of one student tutor who felt so overwhelmed he considered opting out of the program. He had a change of heart after the first few meetings with his pupil, and participation became so important to him that he got special permission from his soccer coaches to fulfill tutoring responsibilities around his practice schedule.

Anderson hopes to continue the program in the future to benefit not only her students but also the high school volunteers.

"It's been such an effective program; we're so thankful," she said.

Anderson is a 2013 graduate of Hendrix College in Conway. She received her bachelor's degree in psychology, worked abroad for a year and then returned to Arkansas to work for Easter Seals of Little Rock providing services for individuals with disabilities.

Anderson volunteers much of her free time to her school and to her students. She has taken on the role of arts outreach coordinator to organize after-school activities centered on the arts. There will be workshops in theater, cooking and visual arts, and she will add more volunteers to the tutoring program she created. She has been responsible for multiple fundraising campaigns acquiring much-needed classroom materials for her students as well as serving on the school gardening committee.

Applications for 2016 Arkansas Teacher Corps Fellowships will be taken through March 6.

Contacts

Heidi Wells, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, heidisw@uark.edu

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