The ancient Mesopotamian civilization, an online math program, and an English paper on an inspirational person are among the many subjects Christian Youth Center tutor Zachary Vienne has helped area students with lately.
A teacher’s aide at Saratoga School and a recent college graduate with a degree in education, Vienne is one of the four teachers or former teachers in the CYC’s free tutoring program, which started in earnest this fall.
“I like the one-on-one,” Vienne said. “You can give the focus that kids don’t get at school a lot of times. It’s a great way for them to get the help they need.”
The Morris CYC, located on Illinois Avenue at the southwest end of downtown in CanalPort Community Center, ran a trial period of tutoring last spring, but officially began the program with the start of this school year.
Tutoring is offered at the center after school, from 4 to 6 p.m., on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is for any area junior high/ high school student, regardless of religious affiliation, and there is no charge for the services.
Jill Larson, also a certified teacher, co-organizes the program with Vienne.
“We started it because some of the CYC kids would be there anyway from after school until 9 at night,” Larson said. “Adults were there supervising. There are a lot of leaders and a lot of adult supervision.”
Larson said students can come in to get help with homework or to have it checked, to get help studying for exams, ideas on writing assignments, help with computer homework, quizzes on flashcards, or whatever they need. The tutors have broad teaching experience, but most have their areas of expertise.
“My specialty is language arts,” Larson said, “but I can do anything sixth through 12th.”
Vienne said he’s comfortable with anything, but has specialties in social sciences and language arts.
“But I’m comfortable with math and science, too,” he said.
Colette Kirby is a retired fifth-grade teacher who said she loves tutoring the students who come in. She has a few regulars who visit after school to get some extra help, and new students drop in now and then. It’s pretty underutilized right now, she added, and said she hopes more parents learn about the opportunity for their older schoolchildren.
“I started in September,” Kirby said. “I saw an article in the paper about the CYC beginning a tutoring program. I had been praying that God could show me how I can serve in my retirement.”
Kirby said math is her forte, but she has also helped with science, language arts, reading, and social studies. Kids can come in for the tutoring, to hang out and do their homework, or just to socialize, she said. There is a large table they can sit at with the adults or a bank of supervised computers with parental controls installed.
Then they can stay later for the CYC’s programs, which begin at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The CYC is a great place for junior high and high school kids, Kirby said.
“I think it’s important just knowing there are people out there who care about them,” she said.
CYC board member Cindy Harrington has a K-9 teaching certificate and has homeschooled students in grades 4 through 6.
“We saw a need,” she said of CYC beginning the tutoring program. “Some of the kids who came to the center were struggling at school. We thought this would be a helping hand for them and for the whole community.”
For the students who want to stay later and join the programs, Harrington said Tuesdays are kind of the fun nights, with games, food, group activities, and a short message from a pastor. Thursdays are geared a little more serious, with small groups and connecting with a community leader for some mentoring. Messages are a little more in-depth, she said.
The CYC Morris also has a more intense Bible study on Monday nights, she added. For more information about CYC’s free tutoring program or other programs, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (815) 416-9424. The group is also on Facebook, listed under “Cyc Morris.”