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Mason looking for tutors as part of new program aimed at helping Northern Virginia youth

September 21, 2020   /   by Anna Stolley Persky

Photo by Getty Images

George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) is partnering with EduTutorVA, a new education nonprofit, and seeking volunteers to help tutor local K–12 students at risk of falling behind in their classes during the coronavirus pandemic.

The group’s mission is to provide one-on-one tutoring in core academic areas by trained college students and alumni. The nonprofit was created to help address the educational disruption caused by the pandemic.

EduTutorVA is planning to work within Northern Virginia schools to help tutor low income and underserved students. At this point, EduTutorVA plans to partner with Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), Arlington Public Schools and Alexandria City Public Schools. Mason is seeking individuals from the Mason community who can devote at least three hours per week to online tutoring.

“This is a great way for Mason students to support disadvantaged students in Northern Virginia who are at risk of falling very far behind,” said Roberto A. Pamas, associate professor of education leadership at CEHD and director of TEACHERtrack. “Students who participate will get the opportunity to see the positive and immediate impact of using their educational skills to help students in need. They will learn hands-on different ways of reaching students and helping them be successful.”

Earlier this year, Virginia Senator Mark Warner expressed his concern over how the switch to online learning would likely increase the learning challenges for underprivileged students in Virginia schools. In response, a group of longtime area educators rapidly created EduTutorVA to serve as a conduit between K–12 schools and local colleges and universities.

Advisory board members include longtime local education and political heavyweights, such as former FCPS Director of Student Services Eleanor Saslaw, former Virginia Delegate Margaret Vanderhye and former Virginia Delegate Kristen Amundson.

Over the summer, EduTutorVA advisory board members approached Mason to partner in its efforts.

“We wanted to partner with public universities to recruit their students for tutoring,” said Elizabeth Lodal, EduTutorVA advisory director and former FCPS principal. “We wanted to work with Mason because it is the big guy in the neighborhood when it comes to education here in Northern Virginia.”

Lodal added that EduTutorVA’s aims to increase the number of individuals dedicated to teaching.

“Our goal is to help show prospective teachers studying at Mason the joys of helping a child learn through one-on-one and small group tutoring,” Lodal said. “This way, EduTutorVA is helping both our youngest learners and college students who wish to get fulfilling employment in education.”

CEHD is looking at a number of ways to give students credit for tutoring, including allowing tutoring to fulfill the field placement requirement for students in Mason’s teaching programs. In addition, CEHD is putting together a way for tutoring to serve as a three-credit class.

“With the pandemic disrupting education for so many, the EduTutorVA program fills a huge learning gap in the Northern Virginia area,” said CEHD Interim Dean Robert E. Baker. “We’re thrilled about and grateful for the support from our local community leaders to think of George Mason as they create this essential program. This will be a great opportunity for our students aspiring to be teachers to work one-on-one—even if it is virtual to start—with children in the area to provide an effectual education and to enhance their learning experience during this uncertain time.”

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