It’s the time of year for Innovations for Learning tutors to be making plans for end-of-the-year get-togethers with the students they’re helping learn to read.
About 1,300 adults are devoting a half-hour each week to communicating, via telephone and the computer, with children in low-income neighborhood schools. From their desks in corporations like AT&T and agencies like the U.S. Coast Guard, the grownups are giving first-graders some precious personal attention and encouragement to get them started on a successful path through school.
To cap the experience, the volunteers will travel to the kids’ classrooms to read stories, play word games, enjoy story-building exercises, and — very often — bask in the glow of the kids’ appreciation.
This year, the process for signing up and planning for these school visits is streamlined, thanks to a new computer program on the IFL web page for tutors that allows tutors to sign up with a click on the “RSVP” button and to see instantly who else among their coworkers is planning to attend. The new tool also lets classroom teachers and TutorMate coordinators see how many visitors to expect.
The new system went active earlier this month, thanks to crucial help from IFL’s partner for technical matters, Photon, based in India.
Until now, organizing the end-of-year visits was rather haphazard. “We never knew who was going to come,” said Cary Zakon, IFL’s director of TutorMate operations. “Now, it gives us some foresight. If we see that registration is lagging, we can send out reminders to the coordinators. And if we get fewer than three people signed up, we’ll cancel the event.”
Hopefully, that won’t happen very often. Because one thing that tutors, teachers and students all have learned — these are great events.
As one tutor told us after a visit last year: “It was so great to have an opportunity to meet our students — we had an amazing time! The students were so excited to meet us in person and and they loved the books and our token gifts.”
For more information on the visits and registering for them, click here.
Photo: JP Morgan Chase employees at classroom party, 2011. From IFL video.
IFL recruiters marked a milestone this week: 1,000 tutors lined up since Labor Day.
This means that at least a thousand kids will be getting extra one-on-one help in reading this school year. “And we’re hoping to get to 2,000 by February,” said Dan Weisberg, IFL’s national director for corporate alliances.
Innovation for Learning’s TutorMate program taps employees of corporations and other large workplaces, asking them to spend a half-hour a week to communicate, via phone and computer screen, with young students in classrooms.
The goal is to bring literacy to underserved children.
With an expanded recruiting effort, tutors have been lined up in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami, Detroit, New York, Seattle, Oakland, Sacramento and Denver, Weisberg said.
After taking part in a webinar for training, they’ll start working with students beginning in Oct 29.
The variety of organizations taking part for the first time is widening fast. A partial list includes the Janus Funds, Mizuho Bank, Costco, General Motors, Starbucks, the American Psychological Association, the National Institutes of Health, United Airlines, RR. Donnelley Co., the Miami Veterans Administration Hospital, the Miami Marlins, Weyerhaeuser, the insurance companies MetLife, PEMCO and Symetra, Weyerhauser, Booz Allen Hamilton consultants, the law firms Perkins Coie, Farella Braun + Martel LLP and Davis Wright Tremaine, and U.S. courts for the D.C. Circuit.
They join such longtime supporters of the program as Chase Bank, Accenture, AT&T, Microsoft, Comerica Bank, comScore, Morningstar, and Nielsen, among plenty of others.
Interested? Contact IFL at firstname.lastname@example.org