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Students helping students

High school Students tutor and mentor students at Gorenflo and Nichols Elementary

BILOXI, Mississippi— Students at Biloxi High School are giving students at Gorenflo and Nichols Elementary the academic help they need through a special afterschool tutoring program funded by the East Biloxi Community Collaborative (EBCC).  The high school students spend their afternoons at the two elementary schools working one-on-one with students who have struggled in the past.

Tutors are selected for the program based on grades, citizenship, and leadership qualities, and EBCC pays them to work with the younger students.  Students at Gorenflo and Nichols are selected for the program based on academic performance of previous state tests as well as Star Reading and Star Math data.  School administrators say it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

“I truly feel that all children need the opportunity to be successful,” said Melissa Nance, principal at Nichols.  “We know that the research tells us that one-on-one instruction is the most effective.  However, the normal instructional day does not provide us with the time to fully implement individualized instruction for all students each day at the magnitude that is needed to bring about significant growth.”

Significant growth is already evident for students at Gorenflo thanks to the program, which is in its second consecutive year at the school.  The regular afterschool program takes place three times a week, and the high school tutors are a supplement to the program.  Last year, the school went from a D state grade rating to a B.  Principal Dr. Vera Roberson says the tutoring program has greatly contributed to that success.

“Year before last, the students had to take a new state test, and we didn’t score as well as we would have wanted to, but this past year, with high school tutors coming in, allowing for more small group and individualized instruction, we went up two grade levels,” said Roberson.

This school year, Gorenflo will focus on third graders as they prepare for the state’s third grade reading assessment, which determines promotion to the fourth grade.   At Nichols, kindergarteners and first graders participate in the tutoring program.  Administrators say literacy is the key to students having a good foundation to overall academic success.

“Our focus at Nichols is early literacy because we know the importance of building strong reading skills, which is the basis for learning in all subject areas,”said Nance.  “Our ultimate goal is to get all first grade students performing at or above the second grade level in the areas of Reading, Writing, and Math before leaving Nichols.”

In addition to the continued academic success, the tutors have helped the elementary students in other ways.  Administrators say they have become mentors in the process.

“Our students are able to see some of the students who attended Gorenflo Elementary and see them as high school students, and they’re at that point they’re nearing graduation, so it’s motivation for them to want to graduate,” said Roberson. “It’s not just about the tutoring, but also about the relationship, which is something that can last a lifetime.”

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