Approximately 25% of the students at T.C. Walker Elementary School live in disadvantaged homes. These students do not meet the criteria for Special Education, yet are at-risk or are currently performing below grade level. The PAWS (Positive Achievement with Students) for Success Program was developed to meet the needs of these students.
Students from Gloucester High School, less than one mile away from the elementary school, serve as tutors to the younger students. Their responsibilities are numerous. Tutors arrive at the elementary school and sign in with the Community Education Coordinator who provides them with a lesson plan from the students' teachers. They then participate in a tutoring session that usually lasts approximately 45 minutes. The elementary school children then return to their classes to be dismissed for the day. Tutors attend anywhere from between one to three times a week, depending on the needs of the students. Tutors request a specific grade level they are comfortable with as well as subject matters they prefer.
Many of the tutors augment the lesson plan with educational games or activities that help present the lesson in another fashion to further demonstrate how the work can be completed. After the session is completed, the tutor returns the student to class and then completes a session note. The session note contains objective information on what material was presented to the student, how the student responded and any difficulties or successes that need to be communicated.
The tutor also acts as a positive role model for the student. The tutors learn about the students' interests and dreams. They discuss sports, music or other areas of interest. Teachers report students waiting for tutors to arrive as well as talking about the session afterwards.
Last year, of the 17 students receiving services, four would have been retained had it not been for the intervention received. The remaining students were closer to grade level in reading and math. The program began in November of 1995 with 14 tutors and 17 students. Today more than 37 tutors are serving 40 students.