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Editorial: Tutors make difference in someone’s life, future

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As hard as it might be to imagine, Johnson County schools have been in session for nearly a month. But already some students are falling behind their classmates.

They struggle to understand math concepts or have trouble with reading. Without extra help, these students will fall increasingly behind as the year progresses.

Fortunately adults in our community have the opportunity to help fill in some of the gaps that plague children who attend our area schools. Programs such as OASIS tutoring in Greenwood and the Franklin Education Connection’s Study Buddy program offer organized ways for individuals to make a difference in students’ lives. Other school districts can use volunteer help, too.

For more than 25 years the OASIS tutoring program has transformed the lives of children all over the United States offering compassionate friendship and academic support to children in elementary school. OASIS has provided tutors in the Greenwood area for more than two decades. A total of 43 students worked with tutors last year through the program.

Franklin Education Connection was created in 2005 to pair students who need extra academic help or who have troubled home lives with adult mentors. The mentors meet the students for an hour each week, where they spend time on homework, talk about their lives and sometimes play chess, cards or board games.

Last year, more than 100 mentors were each paired with a student. All five Franklin elementary schools and Custer Baker Intermediate School had mentors.

An OASIS tutor, Tom Foster, was profiled in a Daily Journal article last week. He has been working with students one-on-one at Westwood Elementary School for 10 years. Not only has he helped youngsters with academic skills, he has been a friend and mentor. Former students recognize him and say “hi.”

Tutors don’t need any special academic skills or qualifications — just a desire to help. Both programs offer training.

Teachers recommend students for the program either because they need extra help with homework or they need someone who will talk to them and encourage them. But with more students being recommended each year, the waiting list keeps getting longer, according to Melissa Parramore, Franklin Education Connection coordinator.

The mentors spend an hour a week after school with their student. Their first priority is homework, where they help the student with areas where they struggle, such as math or reading, but once that is finished they have free time to talk, play games or read.

By devoting one hour a week as a tutor, mentor or simply a buddy, an individual can make a difference in a student’s life.

As one longtime Franklin tutor recently said, “This is the best thing I do for me. ... I have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.”

For those interested in becoming a tutor, call 396-3751 or email rcovely@oasisnet.org for more information.

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