Ohio Wesleyan University’s Bishop Scholars program is doing more than providing free, post-pandemic tutoring for regional elementary and middle schoolers. The OWU initiative also is helping other Ohio educators think about best practices to enhance their own programs.
Bishop Scholars launched in fall 2022 with a $499,170 grant awarded jointly by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and Ohio Department of Higher Education. A year later, Kerri Robe, Ohio Wesleyan’s assistant program manager of Community Service Learning, is presenting to peers about the initiative after Bishop Scholars was nominated by ODE tutoring coordinator Sarah Wilson to be a Spotlight Program.
Robe, whose role includes coordinating Bishop Scholars, shared an overview of the program Oct. 11 during an education Action Forum held in Dublin, Ohio, and sponsored by the Ohio Deans Compact on Exceptional Children. The compact is a component of the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services at the University of Cincinnati.
“Bishop Scholars provides an exceptional opportunity for Ohio Wesleyan students to integrate their passion for service and apply skills learned in the courses they take on campus,” Robe said. “Bishop Scholars tutors create strong relationships with their tutees, resulting in positive academic gains and increased self-confidence. Last year, we saw a 97% improvement in math and 90% improvement in reading with the kindergarten through eighth-grade students in the program.”
This fall, Ohio Wesleyan students are tutoring pupils in seven buildings in the Delaware City and Buckeye Valley school districts and Columbus Bilingual Academy North. The “high-dosage” tutoring sessions are held for 30 to 45 minutes up to three times a week to help the children in grades kindergarten through eight get back on track academically following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Robe said the program’s goal for the 2023-2024 academic year is to provide up to 6,500 hours of intensive mathematics and literacy tutoring through the efforts of more than 80 Ohio Wesleyan students.
During her Action Forum presentation, Robe showed a video about OWU’s program and explained the logistics that have helped it to succeed. These include providing transportation to and from the partner schools to remove a barrier that otherwise could prevent OWU students from being able to participate. The video was so well received that it was requested to be shown at the Annual International Dyslexia Association Conference, held Oct. 12-14 in Columbus.
Bishop Scholar and first-year Ohio Wesleyan student Josie Uemura shared in the video that she especially enjoys the moment when pupils grasp a difficult concept.
“I really enjoy helping kids,” said Uemura of Reynoldsburg, Ohio. “When I got help with things that I was struggling with and I finally found that ‘a-ha’ moment … it’s the best feeling ever, and I want to help other kids feel that feeling.”
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