SILT, Colorado - Coal Ridge High School student Jordan Slack is a little more excited to go to school on Tuesdays than any other day of the week.
From 12:30 to 2 p.m. every Tuesday, Jordan and nearly three-dozen other CRHS students give up their lunch period and their leadership class to tutor and mentor students at Kathryn Senor Elementary in New Castle.
Some work one-on-one with students on specific skills that the younger students need support in, while others work in groups of four or more to provide guided help for their table of youngsters in writing or math. All are making a difference.
"My pal comes up with great ideas to help us write," said fourth-grader Jasmine Korinek. "He helps us stay on task and you get better grades if you stay on task."
The tutoring project is one of many that CRHS teacher Jennifer Morandi has her leadership class participate in. The project is designed to help the students build their leadership skills, but it ends up being so much more.
"Tutoring is a great way to develop leadership and mentoring skills," said Morandi. "It's about community outreach and giving back."
Morandi works with Kathryn Senor Elementary ELL teacher Julie Martinez to place the students. In kindergarten, high school students are paired one-on-one with a buddy.
"It's about building bonds at this level. They work on social skills and language skills. They draw and build things together," said Martinez.
Kindergarten student Edgerrin Aulik says he likes his buddy.
"Having a high school buddy is really cool," said Edgerrin. "We build stuff and write letters and we do a lot of drawing."
At the older grade levels, tutors may work with advanced students to provide help with accelerated projects, support teachers in the classroom, or pull out students that need extra help with specific skills. Martinez works with KSE teachers and uses classroom academic data to help determine what role the CRHS students play.
If you ask the Coal Ridge High School students, they will tell you they are the ones getting more out of the experience.
"I've gained a whole new respect for teachers. You never realize how hard teachers work and how difficult it is to teach specific skills until you have to do it," explained Slack. "But it is a great feeling when you see that the child actually gets it and you helped them."
Tutoring students at Kathryn Senor Elementary gives a great sense of accomplishment to many of the Coal Ridge Students.
"I get the feeling that I'm doing something right, not only for the student, but for myself, my school and my community," said Amanda Wenzel.
Coal Ridge junior Riley Bolitho comes from a family of educators, and this experience has made him continue thinking about a career in education.
"It's always been in the back of my mind," said Bolitho. "I get a lot of satisfaction from helping kids. It's great when you hear a student tell their parent, 'A high school student from Coal Ridge helped me and I got it. I understand it.'"
Martinez is thrilled to have the Coal Ridge students at KSE helping teachers and students.
"The high school students build a relationship with the students, get to know them, and are able to support them in a great way," she added.
For more information on mentoring in the Garfield Re-2 School District, contact Theresa Hamilton at 970-665-7621.