America Reads/Counts 2015 Spring Training

There were no baseballs thrown, cracks of the bat or sunflower seeds spit at this recent training.  However, there were eager Whitman students getting in shape for a rigorous spring schedule of tutoring local K-8 Walla Walla Public School students in both math and reading fundamentals through the ARAC initiative.


Catherine Bayer, Current Students for Education Reform (SFER President) and 3 year ARAC intern (has served at Prospect Point and Sharpstein Elementary schools) asks a thoughtful question during this engaging training session.

As part of the Clinton Administration’s response to the No Child Left Behind Act, federal money was infused across the nation into college work-study programs to create an army of intelligent and compassionate role models who invest 6-8 hours a week teaching individual students or small groups of students in public school classrooms.  Whitman College has 20 interns working at Berney Elementary, Blue Ridge Elementary, Edison Elementary, Green Park Elementary, Prospect Point Elementary, Sharpstein Elementary and Garrison Middle School this semester. They walk, bike or drive off-campus every week to give a  total of 105 hours of academic support to the district. Whitman students are in local classrooms Monday through Friday, every week of the academic year, partnering with learning specialists and certified teachers to fill in gaps of support for students requiring extra assistance as they struggle to meet at-grade academic standards.

At the ARAC Spring Training, Academic Resource Center Coordinator, Mary Claire Gegen, shared many insightful ideas to equip, encourage and compel the ARAC interns to engage more effectively with the students with whom they are working this spring.

“The connection you make with a student is the key to any progress in learning or tutoring experience.”  – Mary Claire Gegen

Per Mary Claire, every tutoring session should have the following components:  1) begin by learning the interests of the students with whom you are working 2) check in on a personal level about those interests (“hey, how was your baseball try out last weekend?”) 3) never forget you are a role model at all times 4) employ empathy – it goes a long way 5) remember that a tutors’ job is not to give answers to students, but to build confidence in life-long learners.


“Using what is interesting to your “tutee” and making it relevant to the learning process is critical.”  – Mary Claire Gegen

ARAC interns have proven, direct experience working with kids, they are self-motivated, professional, dependable and PAID for their time.  If an undergraduate student is work-study eligible and interested in this opportunity for next year, hiring will occur now through April 2015.  If an interested undergraduate student is not work-study eligible, but interested in this paid internship in the local schools, a special one-time grant is allowing a small cohort of additional interns to be hired for the 2015-2016 academic year.  Please send all inquiries to Susan Prudente directly at

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