04/02/04 — Students help student prepare for end of grade tests

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Students help student prepare for end of grade tests

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 2, 2004 2:03 PM

As students ready for end-of-grade tests next month, Earl Moore says he wants to make sure all of his students have every advantage possible to do well.

Since the fall, Moore, who is serving his first year as principal at Brogden Middle School, has received some welcomed help from students at Southern Wayne High School. They come in once a week to tutor fifth- through eighth-graders in math and reading.

Tutors at Brogden

News-Argus/Phyllis Moore

Students from Saint Serve at Southern Wayne High School are shown with some of the Brogden Middle School students they have been mentoring in preparation for the upcoming end-of-grade tests. Clockwise from left are Michael Fognini, seventh-grader Kevin Cochrane, Mason Campbell, Kevin Kornegay, sixth-grader Danielle Barnes, Brandon Oates, sixth-grader Cortney Kelly, Shaquetta Kelly, back to camera, and sixth-grader Shaquana Jackson.

He has also enlisted the help of two fraternity brothers to work with several seventh-grade boys each week.

"It started last semester and it has worked wonderfully," he said. "It's something I have put in place, and I want to continue."

Diane Horne is the adviser for Saint Serve at Southern Wayne. She said that 60 students participate in a variety of ways, from a community service class that assigns students to work in schools on a daily basis, to the model being used at Brogden where 15 students tutor individuals or small groups.

Saint Serve has been used in Brogden Primary and Carver Elementary schools for several years, she said. She approached Moore in the fall about the possibility of extending the service to the middle grades.

"We have been doing primary school for some time and it's been really successful," she said.

At the end of the school year, teachers are given a questionnaire to gauge the program's success, she said. They are asked to assess how helpful the tutoring proved to be for the end-of-grade scores.

Ms. Horne said the overall response from teachers has been positive.

"Most of the time the answer is 'a great deal of help,'" she said. "The only time it's been 'a little' was when the child was so far behind that the child needed more help than we or any teacher could possibly give them."

She said the program is growing in popularity.

"Every year we always have more requests than we have students to fill," she said.

It has also been beneficial for the high school students. Many bond with their charges, even continuing to keep in touch with the younger students long after the assignment ends.

"There have been a lot of relationships that have formed nice bonds," she said. "A lot of these kids have carried on the relationships, the friends they have made. One I know is going over to the student's house after school to continue helping."

Junior Shaquetta Kelly has been working with a sixth-grader in math and said the experience has been very rewarding.

"It's been easy," she said. "Math is my favorite subject."

Senior Mason Campbell said it has been a good learning experience for him as well as for the students he has worked with.

"You get to teach kids what you've learned and what they don't know," he said.

Ms. Horne said that a bonus from the program is that a fairly large number of students has expressed an interest in entering the teaching profession.

"It's been tremendous," she said. "Many of these kids have never thought about being a teacher until they got into this.

"But now if they go off to college, they already know what to expect of teaching. They have had a dose of reality. I think they'll make incredible teachers."

One of those is junior Brandon Oates, who said that working with Saint Serve for the past three years contributed to his decision to become a teacher.

"I have worked with different grade levels," he said, from second grade students to his current assignment with seventh-grader Kevin Cochrane.

"You come in some of these classrooms," he said, "and some are struggling with reading or math, and then you meet some like Kevin that are really, really smart and think you can't do much. But you can still learn and try to help."

Two members of the Goldsboro chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha also volunteer time each week at the school. Fred Shadding and Jimmie Ford, fraternity brothers of Moore's, have been working with seventh grade boys in such areas as self-control and life skills.

Seventh-grader D.J. Cox said he is learning to be a leader and that this week's message from the mentors was to "learn from your mistakes."

Shadding said that the group has grown in being able to share feelings and talk openly together. Each week, he gives individual and group assignments.

D.J. said his latest assignment is to learn and give Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

Beyanka Lewis, eighth grade language arts and social studies teacher at Brogden, coordinates the schedules for the mentor program.

"I think the students look at the Saint Servers as role models," she said.

"Sometimes in the classroom they may be afraid to ask a question, but by being one-on-one or in a small group, they feel more comfortable asking questions or getting help that they need."