Shawnee State University’s School of Education recently received a two-year Ohio Department of Education grant to fund Literacy LEAPS (Learning and Experiences that Accelerate Progress for Students). The program seeks to improve reading comprehension through tutoring kindergarten through fourth-grade children weekly at Stanton Primary Elementary School (SPES) in New Boston, Ohio.
Current SSU students majoring in early childhood education or early childhood/special education are tutoring over 80 children at the elementary school three to four times a week. Combined, SSU students are completing 42 hours of literacy tutoring weekly.
“Although the students in my group are young, they are already comparing themselves to their peers,” said Allie VanBibber, a tutor majoring in special education. “I have been able to help these students gain confidence in their literacy skills and change their attitudes toward learning. In the beginning I heard many ‘I can’t’ statements, but those have quickly evolved into ‘I can’ statements.”
During their sessions, tutors are using workbook lessons and interactive tools to allow the children to learn creatively. Throughout the program, students, teachers, and tutors are learning about the science of reading and proven methods of teaching students to be strong leaders.
“As a student teacher in a classroom with the students I tutor, I am able to see how they work outside of the tutoring setting,” said Belle Joseph, an SSU senior majoring in early education/special education. “I have been able to witness them use skills we worked on in tutoring as they are doing classwork, and I can say it has truly made a difference for them. I am so proud of the growth they have made.”
Both the tutors and SPES teachers are receiving additional training throughout the year by Wiley Blevins, literacy specialist and author of the project curriculum “From Phonics to Reading.” Brianna Koch, a junior majoring in early childhood/special education observed that each child has a different way of learning.
“It’s extremely important to differentiate instruction to engage the students I am working with and create the best outcomes for their literacy journey,” said Koch.
Grant Director of Literacy LEAPS, Lindsay Monihen, is extremely grateful for the partnership between SSU’s School of Education and SPES.
“Seeing our students thrive as tutors and dive deeper into the science of reading is a joy,” she said. “Students have a powerful, hands-on opportunity to link theory to practice. Additionally, it is an honor to collaborate with such a great school in our community.”