Summer break is coming to an end just as we were getting into the groove of a complete lack of discipline. Our last vacation days will be spent shopping for school supplies, and after that it will be forms, fees, homework and open houses until Labor Day. Everyone with school-aged kids knows the drill.
We also know how important this time of year is for our students. The first few weeks of school set the stage for the rest of the year – academically and socially. That’s why we’re willing to drive to five stores to find a red three-subject notebook and pick up a back-to-school outfit along the way. We are invested in our kids’ success.
Farragut High School teachers and administrators have also demonstrated an investment in student success with a long-term tutoring program funded by the FHS Education Foundation. After school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as many as 40 students show up at the library for subject-specific tutoring, says former curriculum principal Candace Greer. (She is now an assistant principal at Bearden High School.)
One of the reasons the program is a success is that students serve as tutors. Many FHS students are strong in math and science, she says, and they’re willing to donate time to help their peers. Some are members of organizations, like the math honor society Mu Alpha Theta, that require service hours.
Teachers also play an important role. Two to three teachers teach math and science, and a different subject teacher attends each week. Another teacher runs the program and monitors student attendance and academic process. They’re paid for the after-hours work.
“It’s hard to find teachers for tutoring,” Greer says. “They’re already so busy serving as sponsors for student organizations.”
In her previous role, she recruited teachers and applied to the FHS Education Foundation for the grant to pay the teachers. The program costs $4,000 per semester.
“We couldn’t do this without foundation support.”
The tutoring program benefits everyone who is involved. Students who attend bump up their grades, and students who volunteer experience the joy of service. Parents also appreciate the free program. The afternoon schedule typically works better for working parents than early-morning teacher office hours, and peer tutoring can be less intimidating than working with a teacher one-on-one.
While some students, like athletes, are assigned to tutoring, most self-select, Greer says. Attendance goes up around exam time because students care about their performance.
“A lot of Farragut students are very academically-minded, so they choose to use tutoring services.”
The role of the FHS Education Foundation is to cover the gap between what Knox County pays for and what students need. In addition to tutoring, the foundation provides cutting-edge programs and technology to help students reach their greatest potential. As in past years, $12,000 is in the town of Farragut’s budget to donate to the foundation, on top of $22,000 that will be donated to each Farragut public school.
Our entire community benefits from the success of our students. We encourage everyone who is able to support the FHS Education Foundation as a new academic year begins.
Wendy Smith coordinates marketing and public relations for the town of Farragut.