UM-Dearborn students step up to support campus families during COVID

August 23, 2021

A summer tutoring program from Experience+ helped children of faculty, staff and students who faced a challenging K-12 academic year.

Primary school student Alexander Pyrozhenko sits in front of a laptop during a virtual tutoring session
Primary school student Alexander Pyrozhenko sits in front of a laptop during a virtual tutoring session
Alexander Pyrozhenko, son of Associate Professor of Public Administration Vadym Pyrozhenko, logs in for a session with a UM-Dearborn student tutor.

Summer tutoring has always been an important part of education for students looking to play a little catch-up. But with students coming off a challenging school year marked by social isolation and remote learning difficulties, tutoring programs have played an even more significant role. Earlier this spring, folks from the UM-Dearborn Experience+ team decided to contribute to that effort with a pilot tutoring program for children of faculty, staff and students. Staffed by UM-Dearborn students, the hope was not only to assist kids with their individual academic needs, but to provide a supportive environment that helped children become better accustomed to online learning formats. The paid tutoring positions also provided the UM-Dearborn students with professional development and training.

“What is unique about this particular program at this particular time is that the individual one-on-one relationship that the tutors are forging with their students has become an engaging force in itself,” says Britta Roan, associate director of career services, who led the initiative. “Some of the students are meeting with their tutor three to four times a week — I did not expect to see that. Our hope is that this experience will be a positive motivating force as students return to their schools this fall.”  

The core of the program was a team of 9 UM-Dearborn student tutors, who matched their talents with the needs of 29 K-12 student tutees. "Students are craving interaction, they are craving connection,” says tutor Brigit Bradakis. “They want to learn, but just like many of us, they are burnt out. This program is a great opportunity for students to be able to connect to others and ask questions.” The tutors say their own experiences adapting to remote college classes helped them understand the challenges the kids were having in the virtual learning environment. For example, tutor Audrey Asgarally says she drew on her experience with document cameras to show students examples, which helped them solve challenging problems.

Parents have shared lots of positive feedback about the program too. Jennifer Macleod, a program manager for career services, says the tutoring program provided her child “a safe and personalized virtual learning opportunity,” and liked in particular that the sessions were individually designed to meet each student’s needs.

Boosted by a summer of fun and engaging learning, the hope is that students will again be poised to thrive in the upcoming school year.

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Story by Harry Rahn and Austin Kipfmiller. Both Rahn and Kipfmiller were tutors in the Experience+ K-12 summer tutoring program.

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