Tutoring available from area school districts, institutions

Alex Maxwell, Herald Democrat
Piner Middle School eighth grade math teacher Donna Penn helps Noah Nuncio with a problem during class in 2014. (Chris Jennings / Herald Democrat)

As Grayson County students head back to school this month, local institutions continue to extend a helping hand for those who need a bit of extra help outside regular classroom hours.

Sherman ISD

The Sherman Independent School District offers after-school tutoring at every school, Susan Horowitz, superintendent of curriculum and instruction for the district, said. The district also has in-school intervention and enrichment programs for those students who may be falling behind or getting ahead of the game in certain areas.

“It’s a very robust tutoring program that meets the needs of lots and lots of different types of learners,” Horowitz said.

From assessments and tests in classrooms, teachers can identify which students may be struggling and can take steps to get a student back on track. Horowitz said tutoring may be a one-time event for those who just need a catch-up on a single element, or it could be a long-term process. She said Sherman ISD teachers are well versed and well trained to work with students on different kind of levels.

“Our teachers spend a great deal of time building relationships, so after school and before school tutoring is going to be something we make sure parents are aware of,” Horowitz said. “During the school day, if there’s any intervention program or enrichment program, parents are always involved. We want to make sure parents are always asking questions, looking for the best programs for their children.”

Sherman ISD launched the Adventures After-School Program for the upcoming school year to provide parents an alternative to daycare. While the program isn’t specifically geared toward tutoring, Horowitz said there’s always an education element and the children receive homework help. The program is for kindergarten to fourth grade students and operates at every Sherman ISD elementary school. The cost is on a sliding scale based on the parent’s income. Parents can contact their child’s elementary school for information on how to register.

For any type of tutoring, Horowitz said parents need to look for qualified instructors who are familiar with the state curriculum standards. She said a tutoring program is never one-size-fits-all, but it should be individualized and match the child’s needs. She said the school districts provide many free options, but if parents want to pursue private alternatives, they should look for a program that has been vetted and is aligned with what’s happening in schools.

Denison ISD

In the Denison Independent School District, the high school operates Prime Time Tutoring available for all DHS students. The program runs from 3:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday with National Honor Society students available to peer tutor in all subjects. At least one certified teacher is also present for the program. The program is funded by federal dollars, school officials noted, and the DISD Athletic Department funds a bus to transport students home at 5:30 p.m., if needed.

DHS also has interventions for core classes scheduled during the day for struggling students. These students are scheduled into a study skills class where they can be pulled for interventions by core teachers. Students at Scott Middle School are provided tutoring during Jacket Time, a 35-minute period for each core subject each school day. The school also arranges special tutoring for students two weeks before State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness testing.

From 8:30 a.m. to 9:05 a.m. for sixth graders and from 10:50 a.m. to 11:25 a.m. for fifth graders, students at B. McDaniel Intermediate School are provided tutoring during “flex time” each day.

“Not only is flex a tutorial time, but it is also a time for enrichment for those students who excel,” Alvis Dunlap, principal of the intermediate school, said in an email. “Prior to state testing, tutorials are provided for fifth graders who may be struggling in math or reading on at least two Saturdays leading up to the state test. This is voluntary, and we have a 95 percent attendance rate.”

Individual teachers can also arrange before- or after-school tutoring for students, district officials said. While most school districts offer extra help for their students, there are additional options available for students to boost classroom success.

Austin College

The student-operated Service Station at Austin College facilitates a tutoring program for kindergarten to 12th grade students. The free program pairs Austin College students with local children for weekly hour-long tutoring sessions on the university’s campus during the school year. Pranav Sheth, a junior at Austin College and a Service Station board member, said about 300 Austin College students annually serve as tutors for the program.

“We match the college student and the kid that needs tutoring together,” Sheth said. “They have a one hour time they meet on campus in a public place to just really help out the child with anything they need.”

The college students fill out a form that indicates what grade levels and what subjects they prefer to tutor, and the pupils fill out applications for the areas in which they need additional support. The program matches the two together based on the forms. Sheth said while most of the tutoring is one-on-one, college students can tutor up to two students each. Tutors are allowed to meet with the child for more than one hour a week, but Sheth said it’s up to the individual tutor’s schedule whether that can happen as the requirement is for one hour.

The program is completely free, Sheth said, and is available to anyone in the area that can transport their child to Austin College on a weekly basis. Parents can contact the Service Station at 903-813-2333 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday or email at servicestation@austincollege.edu. Parents must fill out an application for their children to get in the program. Sheth said at the beginning of the school year, a lot of tutors are waiting to be matched. As the year progresses, the spots fill up, and they have a hard time finding a tutor for all the children, he said.

“Since it is on campus, it would be a drive for some people to bring their child once a week,” Sheth said. “We’re really willing to offer this service to anyone.”

Grayson College

For high school juniors and seniors who are enrolled in duel credit courses with Grayson College, the school offers on-campus tutoring services. Those who require additional help can inquire with the school administration offices, and they will work with the student to find a support system. The college also offers a writing center, math hub and many course-specific tutoring available for all Grayson College students. School officials said some students serve as privately hired tutors for area school children, but these tutors are not through the college itself, but arranged between parents and the college student.

Learning Rx

Learning Rx in Sherman examines the science behind learning and focuses on strengthening the skills necessary to actually learn. Whitney Fox, the testing coordinator for Learning Rx, said what they do is a bit different from single-subject tutoring as they focus on cognitive brain training.

“We test to see what your weak cognitive skills are, and from there we look at the weakness then provide a program that best fits that,” Fox said.

Fox said Learning Rx has programs for any age and covers reading, math and comprehension, logic and reasoning, attention span, short and long term memory. The length of the training is dependent on the needs of the child, but Fox said Learning Rx has 12 week, 24 week and 34 week programs.

Learning Rx has a back to school assessment and consultation special for $99 that’s available until the end of October, Fox said. The facility is located at 1800 N. Travis St., suite E in Sherman. To find out more information call 903-487-5959. Fox said the facility’s main goals are to instill the lifelong learning skills that will continue to grow and to build a child’s confidence for school.

“Unlike tutoring we actually build the cognitive skills in the brain, so once those have begun to grow and strengthen — you never lose those,” Fox said. “You never lose the strengthened cognitive skills once you have them, it’s something you can’t forget, but it builds and continues to grow.”