Tutoring program brings students together

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

TEMPE, Ariz. -- It is a lesson some Arizona State University students did not expect to learn, but thanks to a service learning program they have found the secret to success comes from helping others.

"The best part of school is actually when I go here," said 7-year-old Braxton.

Braxton is talking about the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Center in South Phoenix where he takes part in the America Reads program.

"Our America Reads program is an after-school academic tutoring program," said Professor Deborah Ball with ASU's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.
 
And on the surface, that is just what it is. Just ask the kids.

"I am actually learning how to read and write, and sometimes we do activities," Braxton said.

"We are doing math problems," his tablemate added.

Braxton showed the geometric shapes they have learned.

"My tutor taught me how to name these and draw these and know their names," he said.

But Ball said reading, writing and arithmetic are just part of what these kids get.

"Their ASU student that they're working with is their mentor and their tutor, and they talk to them about the positive things about going to college and how college is realistic for them," she said.

How to help the kids succeed in school and beyond is something college junior Andrew Johnson said he thinks about every day.

"I think every time I sit down and help a kid, I know that they need my help and I think that in the future that this is going to help our nation, essentially, like we could be helping the leaders of the nation," he said.

Johnson is a supervisor at the Salvation Army site for America Reads and an education major, but Ball said tutoring can help college students in any major.

"The ASU students get professional development and they get résumé building, and also it helps them have a first job experience, and it helps them within their career that they are going into," Ball said.

Tutor Cheyanne Tietje is a business major but learning here nonetheless.

"Observing them, you are learning everything from how to teach to how to make a lesson plan and everything in between," Tietje said.

And it's not just knowledge. The program is helping these ASU students pay for their education, as well.

"All of our students that are part of our America Reads program are actually paid through a federal grant and they are eligible for federal work study through the financial aid office at ASU," Ball said.

It's all part of a program where students of every age are helping guide each other to the best education possible, as put very well by one of those young students.

"My favorite part is we are working together and we can solve problems," one student said.

While the America Reads program is open only to those who qualify for work study, there are a number of other service education programs available. Ball said any of them can make a college student's education richer.

"The more experiences we can give to students, whether they are in kindergarten or whether they are in college, the more experiences we can give them outside the classroom, the better it is for them as an individual," she said.