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Access Academies and SLU Partner for Summer Bridge Virtual Tutoring Program

07/10/2020

The School of Education at Saint Louis University has recently partnered with Access Academies to help provide summer tutors for their Summer Bridge Program, which aims to support current 8th grade graduates from local schools—St. Louis Catholic Academy, Most Holy Trinity, and St. Cecilia—as they approach their transition into high school.

Access Academies works to propel at-risk middle school students through high school and on to college and a successful career through enrichment programs, individualized counseling, and financial support. Access Academies’ Summer Bridge Program is intended to better prepare students for high school by giving them a head-start on high school work and alleviating their anxiety about high school performance. The four-week virtual program began in early June and is being held using both Google Classroom and Zoom, in which tutors work both one-on-one and in small groups with the students.

SLU’s School of Education provided eight tutors to help with the program, and they were joined by four additional tutors from other universities who are Access alumni. Together, these tutors helped to facilitate the development of students’ reading, math, and digital skills. In total, 40 students are enrolled in the program.

I feel that virtual tutoring will be needed more in the years to come, and we would like to make sure that we are at the forefront to help the students within the St. Louis community during this new era of e-learning.” 

Ryan Wilson, Program Coordinator for Community Projects for SLU’s School of Education

Teachers from St. Louis Catholic Academy and St. Cecilia created the curriculum and learning objectives for students and are teaching the math classes online. The tutors review math concepts, complete activities, and assist students with the completion of all their assignments. Further, tutors hold a “book club” to discuss key themes, plot, characters, and overall comprehension of the novels that students are assigned to read over the summer by their high schools. The tutors also assist the students with other writing assignments.

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Maame Boateng, SLU student and Summer Bridge Program tutor 

In addition, the students complete weekly self-paced lessons on a vast range of digital literacy skills, including taking notes, researching topics, and creating presentations. These skills are becoming increasingly vital for remote learning and working, and tutors are able to track and assist students with their progress through the lessons.

Though working face-to-face is ideal in some ways, the transition to virtual learning has allowed tutors to rethink their teaching and dedicate more one-on-one attention to students.

Maame Boateng, one of the SLU tutors, stated that working with the students was an “amazing experience; the more they spoke out the more I was exposed to how incredibly intelligent they were. I was able to get a different perspective on expectations of high school from them. I wish nothing but success for the [students] in their future endeavors.”

Erika Valenzuela, an Access alum and another of the tutors, added that she believes “this experience was an essential stepping stone” to help the students feel prepared and find success in their transition to high school.

To learn more about Access Academies, please contact Carolyn Dubuque at carolyn.dubuque@slu.edu.