The 2020-21 school year is all about being flexible and creative to offer students as many traditional experiences as possible in a safe manner.
In a typical school year, Wellwood Middle School students would be paired with F-M High School students as part of the middle school’s Tutoring Club. The high school students would volunteer to visit Wellwood once a week after school to help the younger students in subject areas they are struggling with.
Because of the pandemic, the middle school is not offering an enrichment period after the regular school day, which is when student clubs typically met, but staff members decided to try offering the tutoring sessions via Google Meet. Ten high school students are currently participating in the club and will be virtually meeting once a week with middle school students to help them in such subjects as math and special studies.
The club has always been popular with high school students and often the volunteers are former Wellwood students, Wellwood School Counselor Liz Wheeler said. For volunteering their time, the high school students earn service hours, which some activities, such as National Honor Society, require. Some high school students participate because they are interested in careers in education, and tutoring gives them some experience working with younger students, Wheeler said.
One benefit of the sessions that is particularly important this year are the connections that form between the students. The tutoring pairs would often spend time chatting about their lives, and if their work was done, playing games together. Because of the pandemic, there have been limited opportunities for peer-to-peer interactions. Wheeler is hoping that even though the sessions are virtual this year, the students are still able to connect and bond.
“I think they’re all suffering from a lack of social interaction,” she said.
The district’s strategic plan includes a focus on offering learning opportunities that promote student engagement, and Wellwood’s Tutoring Club is one example of how staff members are looking for ways to promote academics while also supporting students’ social-emotional needs.