Networks of Support team relies on community connections to arrange tutoring service

woman at computer in home office
Meghan Cai, assistant professor of Chinese, East Asian studies and Chinese Studies, has volunteered through the Networks of Support to offer tutoring assistance.
Image credit - courtesy photo

A network of tutors from Grand Valley is available to offer free assistance to sixth-12th graders as they finish their school's remote learning lessons.

Nearly 30 volunteers, many of whom are GVSU alumni, faculty or staff members, have signed up to offer tutoring assistance. It's one of 10 subgroups within the Networks of Support

In late March, President Philomena V. Mantella asked the Grand Valley community to harness its collective talents, intellectual capacity and compassion, and volunteer to assist Michigan residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chasity Bailey-Fakhoury, associate professor of education and a co-chair of the K-12 subgroup, said they were able to quickly arrange one-on-one tutoring because committee members had personal connections to West Michigan and Detroit educators. 

Many public and charter school counselors have information about how to arrange tutoring sessions if students and their families are interested. This includes Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Holland school districts, plus the charter schools Grand Valley authorizes throughout the state.

"We were able to do this because of our own networks," Bailey-Fakhoury said. "Grand Valley is really a leader in this front. This is a very forward-thinking way of serving the community."

Meghan Cai, assistant professor of Chinese, East Asian studies and Chinese Studies, signed up as a volunteer and has virtually offered tutoring in Mandarin to several high school students.

Cai said she, too, came supplied with a list of contacts of area high school teachers to share information about tutoring.

"My colleagues and I already interact with Grand Rapids City High and Rockford, Hudsonville and Zeeland high schools," Cai said. "The majority of Grand Valley students who take Chinese language classes come from these high schools, so we had formed these connections with local teachers of Chinese."

As the K-12 school year wraps up, Cai said she found the students she has tutored were not so much looking for a lesson in Mandarin, but more for a connection.

"I have had students who were interested in learning more and wanted to practice," she said.

Kris Pachla, director of the Regional Math and Science Center and a co-chair, said the K-12 subgroup is researching if providing tutors during the summer is feasible, and will connect with Grand Valley students pursuing education to widen the tutoring network.

The other K-12 subgroup co-chairs are Bobby Jo Springer, director of K-12 Pathways; Amirah Vosburgh, Charter Schools Office manager of school and community partnerships; and Elisa Salazar, work life consultant, Human Resources.

GVSU's Networks of Support includes assistance for small businesses, K-12 education, medical supply and development, vulnerable population support, and more. The networks are tied to Mantella's Reach Higher Together initiative. 


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