BVU Tutors Help Students at St. Mary's High School

BVU Tutors Help Students at St. Mary's High School

Storm Lake St. Mary's new secondary principal wasted no time in implementing a new initiative to offer academic assistance after school at no extra charge to families. Steven Lueck, St. Mary's 6-12 principal, was able to respond to the need for help for students and implement a K-12 tutoring program in his first semester at the local Catholic school.

"When I first got here, people told me they were concerned that some students needed help in certain subject areas," he explained.

He soon turned to Buena Vista University as a potential partner to help. After contacting the Dr. Paul Theobald of the Department of Education at BVU, Lueck set out to recruit BVU education majors who would commit to serving as tutors on a regular basis as a way to gain experience outside of the lecture hall. Thanks to generous memorial gifts from the Mary Loretta Voss family and some private donations, funding was available to pay the tutors a small stipend for their work. Deni Peters, senior education and Spanish major from Lake Park, her sister senior Jena Peters, pre-med major at BVU and Megan Long, junior math major from Lyons, Neb., were recruited to staff the new afterschool tutoring program.

The program kicked off Sept. 10 with a few students and then grew to a steady attendance of 6-7 students per afternoon. "It's available for K-12 to help kids with their homework. The tutors are not there to do the homework for them but to help them learn," Lueck explained, noting the students coming for help are generally in middle school and high school coming in for help with a variety of subject areas.

The principal explained that students sometimes sign up themselves to receive the tutoring assistance or their teachers or Lueck himself will request that they attend tutoring sessions after school if a student appears to need extra assistance with homework. As a result, 80% of the attendees are "repeat business" - the students keep coming back for help. Lueck also noted that the ineligible list - students who are struggling in their coursework and are ineligible for extra-curricular activities - has shrunk nearly in half due in part to the program. Several students have made great strides in their grades after seeking for a little help from the BVU tutors.

"Receiving extra assistance from the BVU tutors has been a saving grace to me this semester," said St. Mary's High School junior Colton Lullmann." The college students who have given their extra time to help us have also served as good mentors and role models in our school."

In return, the tutors also said they are benefiting from participating in the new program to help St. Mary's students.

"It's been really rewarding and a good experience," Deni Peters said.

"It's great to be able to come in to help and have the students be able to ask questions," Jena Peters noted.

The three BVU students said they are mostly asked to help students with math, chemistry and Spanish.

The tutoring was available after school Monday-Thursday through late November due to finals examination schedules at the local university. The program will begin again in the second semester 2014.