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SNC's literacy tutors working at Nicolet Elementary School include (top row, left to right) Mary Jo Rabideau (tutor coach), Ariana Jansen ’25, Kayla Bremmer ’25, Lexi Olson ’25, Maddy Doherty ’25 and Ronnie Match ’25; (bottom, left to right) Libby Rickards ’25, Peter Lim ’25 and Sarah Labinski ’25.

Schreiber Foods Gift Powers After-School Tutoring Program

The Sturzl Center for Community Service & Learning’s volunteer programs can continue to benefit at-risk and low-income students in Green Bay public schools thanks to a recently announced grant from Schreiber Foods.

This year’s award will be partly spent on training teacher-education students on the Sturzl Center’s flagship after-school program for first- to third-grade children, Growing Stronger Together.

This semester, 20 first-year teacher education students are back working as literacy tutors in one-on-one after-school sessions in two Green Bay elementary schools after a pandemic-enforced shift to virtual learning last year. They work with their assigned children for two half-hour sessions a week, and at the same time receive coaching from professional educators.

For education major Emily Mitchell ’23, now tutor coordinator for GST, as well as a volunteer tutor, that is one way the volunteers benefit as much as the children.

“It’s so useful. Our coaches will sit down with us and help us go through lesson plans and work out how best to support the needs of our kids. We also do growth mindset and resilience work, helping our students learn that it’s okay to make mistakes, and how to grow in their learning and not give up when something is challenging. And that’s something I find useful all the time myself in my own learning. I think, ‘What would I tell the tutor students to do now?’

“We’re combination buddies and teachers – we do a lot of work to get to know our students at the beginning and have some fun, although we are there to help them learn. They get really excited to see us because they enjoy that one-on-one attention and know we’re there just for them.”

Mitchell has volunteered since 2019, her first year of college. “I heard about the tutoring program before I even came to St. Norbert. My sister was here and told me about it, and I knew I wanted to take part. I had volunteered in a 4K summer school when I was at high school and always knew I wanted to work in early-years education.”

A growing program
In 2020-21, Schreiber funds helped the Sturzl Center and the SNC teacher education department create a virtual learning program as a pandemic response, involving 300 student tutors and seven college/university partnerships.

Mitchell switched from supporting one elementary school pupil to working online directly with three families. “They were from all over, not just from Green Bay – anyone who needed our help. It was quite an adjustment.” Schreiber’s funds meant that Mitchell and other education students could be recruited to help develop and lead the new virtual services that built on the pandemic response once students were back on campus and able to volunteer.

The Sturzl Center’s new virtual service for families, Norby’s Buddies (social and emotional learning plus homework help), grew out of the pandemic response, and Growing Stronger Together continued virtually through spring 2021, until a return to the classroom was possible this semester.

“There were many ups and downs, pivots and restarts, but everyone learned together,” said Sturzl Center director Nancy Mathias. “Despite the many challenges of quarantine, children learning from home, and continual program disruptions in our partner schools and non-profits, over 140 SNC students provided meaningful service to over 200 children.”

Oct. 20, 2021