Educating Through a Pandemic: Virtual Tutoring

One of the most important questions families are asking through this pandemic is how they can enhance and maintain their child’s education. With Governor Evers extension of the stay at home order through May 26, schools have closed for the remainder of the year. As schools close, primarily moving to virtual learning, the task of education falls largely to parents and guardians who have jobs and other responsibilities as well. Most lack the time or resources to further their child’s education, leading them to seek outside help, many turning to a free virtual tutor program offered through St. Norbert College in conjunction with neighboring institutions. Families must simply fill out a form to be matched with a tutor to fit their student’s needs. 

The program is designed to provide K-12 students with supplemental tutoring in any area of concern. Through the sign-up form, the families are provided a tutor, one who is often available on a variety of online platforms, such as Zoom, to increase accessibility. Tutors are designated to help with providing structure, supplemental instruction or strengthening subjects for their particular student. This versatile approach to learning allows for students to be specifically paired by education professors and professionals with their tutor for maximum effectiveness. 

Dr. Bola Delano-Oriaran

The brilliant mind behind this influential program is St. Norbert College’s Dr. Bola Delano-Oriaran, Associate Professor of Education and the Director of Student-Teaching Abroad. Dr. Delano-Oriaran explains that within the program “we are all about the quality of engagement,” something that allows a personalized approach to learning, within which many students thrive.

Dr. Delano-Oriaran explains the beginning of the program as a simple idea, one that she “generated and let it transform.” Crediting “the mission of St. Norbert College, rooted in communio, we’re supposed to respond to our local and community needs.” She references the program as one “that is benefitting lives, and [bringing her] joy to be able to do that but [she] can’t do it alone.” Dr. Delano-Oriarian explains that teamwork allows for the program’s success. Working closely with SNC’s community service center, along with the education departments across campuses, the program has seen an intense increase in numbers since its conception in mid-March. 

Currently, the program is serving over 700 students, putting the approximate 300 tutors quickly to work. The program is engaging students Pre-K through 12th grade from 18 states across the country. When asked about the sheer volume of students participating in the program, Dr. Delano-Oriaran says that the process has been overwhelming, yet humbling. She believes in the African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child.” 

Tutors also come from many walks of life. As of today, about 10 percent of the tutors are education professionals, believing as Dr. Delano-Oriaran explains “that their profession is a lifelong one.” Approximately 90 percent are students from Lawrence University, Ripon College, St. Norbert College, UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee, UW Oshkosh and UW-Stevens-Point. Some of the college students volunteered to supplement their teacher education program, but many chose to help out simply because they could. The program displays the power of inter-institution communication.

Breakdown of Current Tutors

“It is rewarding for private and public institutions to come together and be able to nurture, to be able to support a program that is benefiting families across the United States,” Dr. Delano-Oriaran says.  

Dr. Delano-Oriaran explains that the program is providing a route back to normalcy for families and students. The program is a “win-win situation” as students receive the help they need, while tutors build skills to take to future endeavors and parents get some support. Dr. Delano-Oriaran concluded her recap of the program with a quote from Nelson Mandela.

“Education is the most powerful weapon in which you can use to change the world, and that is what we are doing with this program,” she says. “On one hand, we’re dealing with a pandemic, but on the other hand you just have lives, we are able to just reach people’s lives.” 

To learn more about the program or register a student, click here.

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