A twist on an old program has resulted in Hispanic junior high students preparing to work as reading tutors for Hispanic elementary students in the Toledo Public Schools district.
Six Jones Junior High School students were selected by their teachers based on their grades and positive attitudes to serve as mentors and tutors for students struggling with reading at Newbury, Marshall, and Walbridge elementary schools through the Students for Other Students program, Guidance Director Fadia Abouelaila said.
She said while the SOS program has been around for a number of years, a $5,000 grant from Fifth Third Bank modified the direction of the program to focus on Hispanic students. There is about a 2 percent Hispanic population at Jones.
"We feel there's a need there," said Karen Fraker, senior vice president of marketing for the bank. "If you look at the statistics, Hispanics tend not to stay in school, and if we start young enough, we may be able to influence students to succeed in school and stay."
The grant money will go toward paying the junior high school students $6 an hour to tutor the younger ones and help them with homework for about 45 minutes after school Monday through Friday until the end of the school year. The junior high school students get out an hour before the elementary students.
Angelica Gonzalez, 13, said she thinks some Hispanic students need a leg up on reading because they may be struggling to learn the English language.
The seventh-grader said she believes she'll be a good tutor because she speaks English and Spanish, and comes from a bilingual household where her father speaks both languages, but her mother speaks only Spanish.
Before they start their jobs later this month, Ms. Abouelaila said she has been working with the tutors once a week after school to ensure they understand their job responsibilities, which includes helping the children read by sounding out the words, giving compliments, and encouraging them.
"They're real good role models," she said of the tutors who were chosen to participate in the program.
Through the training sessions, eighth-grader Ciera Delarosa, 13, said she understands more how to react to the child she'll be tutoring.
"I'm excited and nervous," she said.
Young Gonzalez said she expects to learn and teach through the program.
"I can learn to be responsible and help the little kid learn how to be respectful," she said.
School officials said that's exactly what they want from the program, said Jose Luna, bilingual education and related programming coordinator.
"Students doing the tutoring gain self-esteem and self-assurance," he said, "and students being tutored will get up to their grade level and feel better about themselves."