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How tutors are making a difference in Newark

December 13, 2011 7:00:33 PM PST
Nicole Berne's first job as a college graduate is as a member of the tutor corps at Great Oaks Charter School in Newark.

"We're always there to help out with anything; whether it's a personal problem, whether it's an academic problem, we're there to provide whatever the students need," Berne said.

Jared Taillefer is the school's executive director. He says he enlisted the help of recent college graduates because many of them need help.

Both the school and the tutor corps are new this year. Great Oaks now has 133 sixth and seventh graders. It will expand each year, up to 12th grade.

The 25 tutors are assigned to work with the same three or four students for the entire school year.

"If it's integrated into the school day and integrated into the curriculum, and it's individualized on a daily basis with a personal relationship, you're going to make some serious academic gains," Taillerfer said.

The tutors get free housing at an apartment complex near the school, and they get a stipend of 7-thousand dollars for the year.

"There's such satisfaction in being able to communicate with someone and have them understand and get something out of that, and that's what teaching is," Berne said.

Not all the tutors want to become teachers, but they all seem to value the experience.

"Being a tutor, your happiness is definitely tied to the success or failure of your students; to how they're feeling on a different day," tutor Gillian Page said.

Great Oaks plans to grow the tutor corps as it grows student enrollment.

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