In the wake of COVID-19, school districts across New Jersey are opting for remote or hybrid instruction. As a result, many parents of K-12 students are looking to bridge a learning gap caused by fewer in-school hours. Thanks to a program proposed by William Paterson University President Richard J. Helldobler, aspiring and practicing teachers studying in WP’s College of Education are filling this need for the campus community.
Twenty WP students – 13 undergraduate teacher-candidates and 7 graduate students who are already working professionally as educators – plus two College of Education staff members have been providing virtual tutoring services for the children of WP faculty and staff, for free.
“This program isn’t only good for the child and the parent who are being served; it’s also beneficial for the tutor and for the College of Education,” notes the college’s dean, Amy Ginsberg. “In difficult times, stretching ourselves and being of service to others brings great internal rewards. I am proud that our students and staff have volunteered their time and their expertise in this way and very grateful to them for representing the best of our college.”
Brian Fanning, Director of Information Technology User Services at WP, enrolled both his daughters, ages 8 and 12, in the tutoring program. “I thought it would be good to provide them with the opportunity to have someone who isn’t a parent or teacher help them out and give them a different perspective,” Fanning explains. “It was a great decision.”
His youngest is especially excited for tutoring, he says. “She told me, ‘I really like Thursdays. I get to see Abby and do tutoring,’ and I thought, ‘Wow.' It’s good to see that.”
Honors College student Abigail “Abby” Viola ’22 is that tutor.
“This experience has benefited me in many ways. First, it pushed me to think outside the box when it comes to different ways to share information online— games, flashcards, and features within the Zoom app helped me to really get the needed information across,” Viola explains. “Zoom is an awesome tool when it comes to tutoring online; the white board and share screen features are great.”
Indeed, the dean says, the younger generation’s savviness with technology currently has them “blazing trails in virtual education. They are helping students learn and helping veteran teachers manage a new normal.”
Marketing and Management Professor Mike Chao has also been very pleased with the tutoring program, in which he enrolled his 10-year-old son.
“During this pandemic especially, kids need activities and social interactions,” Chao explains. “I feel my son benefits the most in these two aspects. There is an obvious morale improvement, for sure,” the professor adds.
“As a WP faculty member, I like this program a lot. It not only provides an opportunity for my son to interact with college students/future teachers, but also for the WP students to practice their teaching skills,” Chao says. “It is a win-win situation.”
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