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Education

Students can't always get to after-school tutoring. This Arlington service brings it to their class

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Kailey Broussard
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KERA News
Volunteers with HOPE Tutoring work with students at McNutt Elementary School in Arlington on Jan. 18. The tutoring group, which has provided free sessions to low-income students for 25 years, is piloting an in-school tutoring program.

Jorele Hayden, who teaches third grade at McNutt Elementary School in Arlington, is the link between third graders and a pilot program from Helping Our Pupils Excel (HOPE) Tutoring Center. She makes sure the handful of students who get pulled from classes for extra help have their school work in order.

The program launched last September and benefits students who may not be able to take advantage of HOPE Tutoring's after-school hours. It's also helpful for teachers contending with larger class sizes.

"It's hard to build that one-on-one rapport all the time," Hayden said.

The program has been long in the works for HOPE Tutoring, which tried to launch the pilot in late 2019 but halted the program when COVID-19 started to spread. Arlington Independent School District has remained open as positive omicron variant cases rise in Tarrant County, and so has HOPE Tutoring, which offers both in-person and online sessions.

Kathy Mitchell, HOPE Tutoring's executive director, said volunteer tutors returned to school as soon as they were allowed to do so.

"Children have been suffering a lot with all of this academic disruption that's going on," Mitchell said. "Being able to bring tutoring has been more meaningful now more than ever before."

HOPE Tutoring has worked with students in low-income households for 25 years. The program started out of Aldersgate United Methodist Church and grew into a city-wide effort that operates out of libraries, in schools and online.

The nonprofit mainly works in east Arlington. The area east of Cooper Street lags behind the rest of the city in educational attainment, according to the Unity Council Report, a citywide disparity study. The city-commissioned report found that less than 20% of people of color in central and east Arlington earned bachelor's degrees.

Mitchell said it may be harder for parents from low-income households to make after-school tutoring sessions.

"[They] struggle more with being able to get that extra help that they need from the outside, whether it's tutoring, transportation, whatever it might be," Mitchell said.

Student, tutoring numbers rising

Enrollment numbers for HOPE Tutoring dropped during the beginning of the pandemic from more than 100 down to 30, Mitchell said. HOPE Tutoring works with about 50 students now, but Mitchell said more have signed up. That means they'll need more tutors.

"The need is out there," Mitchell said. "The parents are starting to come back to us again."

Tutors range from high school honors students to retirees.

Marge Dawson used to serve on the tutoring organization's board of directors, but returned to volunteering because she missed the students. She and her husband, Bob, have been involved in the group for more than 20 years.

"I've had kids come back the next year to say, 'Wow, because of you, I could run track this year because I had to get my grades up.' That's the benefit, that's the main thing: the kids," she said.

Enrollment and volunteer applications for HOPE Tutoring are available on their website, hopetutoring.org.

Got a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at kbroussard@kera.org. You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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