Tutoring Program Connects Tam and MLK

By Riley Kuffner

The Honor T/CSF club started a program this month to provide tutors for middle-school students at Martin Luther King (MLK) Academy in Marin City. The program was organized by junior Lauren Killingsworth, vice president of the Honor T/CSF Club at Tam, along with MLK principal and former Tam teacher Daniel Norbutus.

The program aims to give students academic help during after school periods called “academic excellence sessions.” “Tutoring really helps kids get work done and stay focused,” said sophomore Emerald Sanders, a former MLK student who now participates in the tutoring program.

Club members are paired with tutors who they work with at least once every week for two months. In the first session, five Tam tutors were present to tutor a pool of about 15 MLK students.

Sophomore tutor Gianna Garza described her session as a challenge. “The kid I was working with walked out on me,” she said. “It was hard because I had never encountered that before, but I just gave him some time and regrouped. By the end we were starting to progress and he was beginning to understand the concepts.”

“MLK is an extremely small school of about 50 students with kids that are different both socially and economically than Mill Valley,” said Norbutus. “This presents an added challenge when trying to teach them new things and keeping them on task.”

While some MLK students are resistant to the program, others find it beneficial. “It really helps when I have someone to walk me through my math problems,” eighth grader Keyesha Shavers said.

Tutors also found the experience rewarding. “The signs of a good tutoring program are committed tutors, willing students, and, most of all, both sides getting something out of it,” sophomore Michael Alves said. “That’s what we have with this program. I feel like I learned just as much as the kid I was working with.”

Tutors like Garza and Alves didn’t know what to expect upon enrolling in the program, but were pleasantly surprised. “I used both communication skills to explain complex concepts and connection skills to get to know the student I was working with,” Alves said.

The program is open to any member of the Honor T/CSF club, a club that recognizes two achievement awards, the Tam Honor T, which is community service-based, and the California Scholarship Federation, which is academic-based.

The MLK program continues until the end of the year with minimum two-month commitments by the tutors.