Growing success of Service Learning benefits college students and local schools

Dec. 19, 2008 by Bryant Million NMSU News Center

Propelled by its successes, the College of Education’s Service Learning Program at New Mexico State University continues to grow, bringing more tutors in each semester and recently receiving recognition from the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Partnering with elementary schools in the Las Cruces district, the Service Learning Program gives education students from NMSU’s EDUC 181 course a chance to assist elementary teachers with tutoring in reading and mathematics for elementary students. There also is bilingual tutoring for ELL Services students (English Language Learners).

Some of the tutors, despite receiving no grade or credit, have continued to volunteer after completing the course. These individuals have tutored for enough total hours to earn presidential awards. The Service Learning program recently held a ceremony to recognize the tutors who earned the presidential award over the fall semester and award them their honorary pins.

“(The presidential tutors) are still tutoring because they enjoy what they do,” said Denise Rodriguez, coordinator of the Service Learning Program. “They could care less about the pins and awards. They do it because they have developed relationships with the students and teachers they have worked with.”

Tutors Sharon Kovacs and Kymbre Hayes both received the bronze award last year for volunteering more than 100 hours. The award has a bronze, silver and gold level, based on the amount of hours volunteered. This semester, Kovacs and Hayes have both received the silver award for volunteering a total of 175 hours.

Rodriguez said five more education students have earned the bronze pin this semester as well, including Christa Barrow, Rebekah Jaramillo, Rachel Judge, Lindsey McCormick and Jodie Whitt.

Rodriguez also said the program has grown since it began three semesters ago. In Fall 2007, the program started with 19 students who tutored 421 hours. In Spring 2008, there were 55 students who tutored 1,360 hours. This fall, Rodriguez said the program has 67 active tutors and 16 presidential tutors who have so far volunteered more than 1,500 hours, which was the goal for this semester.

Along with the program’s success, Rodriguez said she has seen the “greatest mentorship ever,” which is the unforeseen connections developing between the tutors and the elementary teachers.

“Because the presidential tutors have been working with them for so long, they are forming relationships with the teachers, who in return help guide the tutors and train them to become teachers, as well as sharing lesson plans.”

For more information, contact the Service Learning Program at (575) 646-3593.

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