Posted Date: 03/01/2021
Written into the class schedule at Chanute High School is 90 minutes for seminar. It’s a time when students can get caught up on assignments, get answers to questions and get homework turned in.
Tracy Walker was among several staff members who observed the system wasn’t working as planned and decided to propose something different.
Walker said she was “concerned about the number of F’s, the lack of assignments, the incompletions and the grades. At the same time there were a lot of students sitting in seminar for an hour and a half with nothing to do” because they were “caught up” in all their classes.
Walker and Communities in Schools Coordinator Sarah Stockebrand approached Principal Matt Koester about forming a new kind of intervention system – one that appears to be working.
“Honestly I think it’s been a positive thing,” said senior Brayden Dillow. “I’ve been able to reach out and connect with others I usually don’t see in a day.”
Dillow is just one of a couple dozen National Honor Society members who were asked to tutor and help students with class assignments during the 90-minute seminar time on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. A student in AP Calculus, he helps them with math.
“I use my personal experience,” things that worked for him when he was learning the concept. If he can, he also tries to “interpret it in a way maybe the teacher hasn’t thought of.”
“Sometimes it’s just nice, when someone is having trouble understanding, to hear it explained in different ways,” Sarah Stockebrand added.
“This (tutoring) team was built based on three factors,” Walker said, “intervention to help with so many students struggling to catch up or learn material, especially after quarantine, a relationship-building opportunity, and an opportunity for some of our students to engage in volunteer activities during some down time in seminar.”
Walker, Stockebrand, and Beth Jackett, who said she was recruited for her math skills, oversee the student tutors who are assigned to work with a group of 2-3 students. CHS teachers refer students to seminar for intervention the day before a session along with a list of what assignments need to be completed. The tutors use a Google form to report back to teachers whether their students show up and what work was completed.
Junior Katelyn Caldwell, who agreed to help with English, said the students are really open and accepting of the student help they’re getting.
“I think it gives a lot of kids who need a little extra help to get their work done a way to connect with peers they don’t usually talk to,” she said.
It’s been a good experience for her as well.
“I like it. I think it’s made me branch out to people I wouldn’t normally talk to (and) showed me a lot of kids are really struggling and just need someone to talk to, not just helping them with homework.”
Not having Comet Time this year due to the schedule changes because of COVID, students haven’t had that opportunity to get extra help, Jackett said.
“What is consistently being done is they’re being held accountable to get something done, getting it done and actually getting it turned in,” she added. “If they complete an assignment, we do keep it and turn it into the teacher.”