Youths -- most of them English language learners -- visit the center weekdays to complete homework and study with volunteer teachers, said Maddon Curry, a volunteer with the
The homework help program has been going well even though students -- like many of their peers -- have to be reminded to do their school work, she said.
But a new partnership between
It's made students want to learn, Maddon Curry said.
"I'm thrilled with the results I have seen," she said of the virtual tutoring program. "Just seeing their excitement. You run an after-school program, and you keep saying, 'Do your homework. Do your homework.' But I didn't have to say, 'Go Skype.'"
The pilot program began earlier this year after
"We had spoken on the phone previously," said Dr.
Hopkins was familiar with a
HIP officials agreed it could work.
"We have computers here. They have education majors there,"
Each Tuesday, the 16 Hazleton youths logged onto the Internet to meet face-to-face with their
"What we did see with pairing our students with the students here is that all of a sudden, our students at
Lee said the partnership benefited the undergraduates, all of whom are required to take a course related to teaching English language learners. With the link to
Many of them have told her that they feel more prepared to work with English language learners.
Hopkins said it is too soon to scientifically gauge the partnership results. But she and others believe that it is having a positive impact.
"We are already working with the staff at the community center to lay the groundwork for doubling or even possibly tripling capacity for the distance learning program," she said. "It is truly rare to see a program that has provided such obvious benefits for both sides so quickly."
HIP Executive Director
"Most of the time when they want to try something that they don't know, both sides are scared," he said. The students were able to overcome those fears -- and as a result, he said, they developed a great sense of achievement.
Hopkins is applying for a grant to provide more technology at the center, and
"This partnership has created a spark for learning in our youths," he said.
The students and tutors eventually met at the
Based on her observations, Maddon Curry expects the program to flourish.
"To see the faces of our kids when they are Skyping with their tutors is remarkable," she said. "When we started, very few of our children were anxious to participate. Now every kid in the after-school program wants to be involved."
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