A Fighting Chance for Academic Success

The peer tutoring program at Upper Columbia Academy (UCA) is designed to give students a fighting chance for academic success.

“Sometimes students need more one-on-one attention than the teachers can give them,” says Joy Turner, UCA’s tutorial program director. “Our peer tutoring program is a huge help in meeting that need.”

Due to the generosity of UCA’s alumni, ten students are employed as tutors. At least one of them is on hand in the library throughout the school day and in each dorm during evening study hall. In addition to helping the student with the subject matter, the tutors help them learn how to organize and prioritize their assignments. The tutors themselves also learn valuable skills, such as discipline and patience, as they work with their peers or younger students.

There are several reasons why students will be involved in this program. Students who have a D, F or incomplete in any class are required to meet with a student tutor on a daily basis. Parents, as well as teachers, can request that a student receive tutoring and special accountability. For example, some students have assignment sheets that must be signed by each teacher every day to indicate that the appropriate homework was turned in. Other students voluntarily seek the assistance of a tutor, either on a regular basis or just when they need extra help with a particular chapter or assignment.

At the beginning of the year, about 50 students were taking advantage of the program. One sign of the success of the program is that by the end of the year, only about 30 needed to use it on a regular basis.

“We still strive to teach to the top third of the class,” says principal John Nafie. “At the same time, we want to provide needed assistance to the other students as well, so they can do their best and expand their potential.”