K-12 Connect serves more than 1,800 K-12 students with virtual tutoring

K-12 Connect logo.
Image credit - Elizabeth Lienau

The enormous success and deep impact of Grand Valley’s virtual tutoring program, K-12 Connect, was showcased during the February 26 virtual Board of Trustees meeting.

K-12 Connect, part of President Philomena V. Mantella’s Networks of Support, began in March 2020 in response to learning loss during the pandemic. In less than a year, more than 1,800 K-12 students already received more than 7,500 hours of virtual tutoring.

“The K-12 learning loss during COVID has been pronounced and we’ve been working in a variety of ways to answer the need,” said Mantella. “Grand Valley responded with passion and creativity.”

President Philomena V. Mantella.
President Philomena V. Mantella listens to a presentation about the success of K-12 Connect during the Feb. 26 virtual Board of Trustees meeting.
Image credit - Valerie Hendrickson

During the past year, WGVU joined with the Charter Schools Office (CSO) to create Laker Lessons, online videos for K-12 educators shifting their instruction online. The College of Education worked with CSO to provide teachers across the state with free educational resources and access to webinars that focus on literacy instruction.

Mantella called the program a “win-win” for both K-12 students receiving additional support and Grand Valley students serving as tutors. 

“K-12 Connect provides experiential learning for our students by giving them the opportunity to tutor younger students. This is part of our SE+ program and nearly 600 Lakers have been involved,” Mantella said.

GVSU students Emma Steeby and LaMaiya Wright.
Image credit - Courtesy photo

GVSU student volunteers Emma Steeby and LaMaiya Wright shared their experiences as tutors.

Steeby, a first-year student and elementary education major, said it’s been rewarding to see students fall in love with learning.

“I’ve watched my students transform from kids who don’t want to read because they are so fixed on this idea that they can’t do it, into super-readers who crave a good challenge and know they are capable of reading hard words,” said Steeby.

Wright, a senior majoring in elementary education, said she received extensive training with the program prior to tutoring. “These training sessions helped me grow as a tutor and ensured I was prepared to assist each student at their individual and unique learning levels,” said Wright. “I have also gained valuable strategies I will take with me beyond K-12 Connect into my own classroom.”

K-12 Connect is providing immediate help by supporting struggling students and educators. The program targets communities most impacted by recent social upheavals as well as the pandemic, which creates opportunities to improve equity.

Amirah Vosburgh, project lead for K-12 Connect, said GVSU has formed strong partnerships with several traditional public schools and charter schools.

“High school students enrolled in the Godwin Heights Odysseyware program, a fully online curriculum, are working with K-12 Connect tutors during their advisory or intervention hours each week,” she said.

Byron Center Charter School tenth graders are working with K-12 Connect tutors during their after-school support time, specifically in geometry. The tutor works collaboratively with the classroom teacher to provide support. 

Beginning March 1, Godfrey-Lee fourth and fifth graders in an online cohort are receiving tutoring in reading and/or math during their intervention hours.

“Next month we will begin working with students in three Battle Creek Public schools, grades 6-12,” said Vosburgh. “The Battle Creek program is being designed with district leadership to support 400 students, who are failing two or more core classes, by offering small group learning pods and targeted one-on-one tutoring.”  

Vosburgh said institutions across the state are looking to emulate the program because of its success. 

Leaders of K-12 connect include Kris Pachla, Regional Math and Science Center; Chasity Bailey-Fakhoury, College of Education and presidential fellow; Amirah Vosburgh, Charter Schools Office; Elisa Salazar, employee ombuds; and Bobby Springer, Veterans Upward Bound program. The expanded team includes Mei Mah, College of Education, and Sarah Keranen-Lopez, TRIO Educational Talent Search.   

Also during the board meeting, Mantella announced NextEd Accelerator, which will house programs designed to address issues around equity and opportunity, such as K-12 Connect.


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