Tutors to help school

Leading By Example, a new tutoring program slated to begin next week, will send Yalies to tutor Hill Regional Career High School students in academic subjects and help them prepare for the Connecticut Academic Performance Test and the college application process.

Leading By Example will focus on motivating students academically while also providing them with social and emotional support and guidance. Students can benefit from the program in a number of ways, from developing good test-taking habits to cultivating new interests. Tutors will spend a minimum of two hours per week working with high school students on weekdays. The program currently boasts 19 volunteers, with more expected to sign up for orientation this Sunday.

Norrisa Haynes ’08, the program’s founder, first came up with the idea for the program last year to address problems she encountered when she was a high school student at Career High School.

“For me, it’s definitely a way to give back to the community,” Haynes said. “I am from New Haven and a product of the New Haven public school system.”

Programs similar to Leading By Example have benefited local students in the past, said Cynthia Beaver, supervisor of guidance and counseling at New Haven Public Schools.

“[Tutoring] always has a positive impact, and any programs of this nature are always helpful and well received,” Beaver said.

New Haven public schools have worked with the Ulysses S. Grant Foundation, the Urban Improvement Corps, and a number Yale University initiatives in the past, Beaver said.

Haynes said she thinks this kind of mentoring relationship should be accessible to more students.

“I wish I’d had the opportunity to interact with people around my age who had just finished the [college application] process and knew how to write the essay and application,” Haynes said.

In recent years, the percentage of Career High School graduates who go on to attend institutions of higher learning has stabilized at around 80 percent, a success which Beaver largely attributes to mentoring programs.

Chantelle Blue Arm ’08 said she decided to volunteer because she was most interested in seeing how the program would fare in increasing test scores and the number of graduates enrolling in college.

“We want to improve their academic performance and inform them about the college admissions process to make it less intimidating for kids to apply to college,” Blue Arm said.

Beaver said she expects Leading By Example to succeed in providing students with good college counseling because the program brings together students and mentors in the same age group and with similar experiences.

Blue Arm said she hopes students will take advantage of the tutors as an additional resource to guide them through their high school lives and the college application process.

“I’m curious to see if it will work and if it will turn out the way we’re expecting,” Blue Arm said. “A lot of people don’t apply to college because they don’t know enough about it. We just want to be available for them and allow them to have a more personal relationship with us.”

Haynes said she encourages any Yale students interested and willing to get involved to contact her, particularly students from diverse cultural backgrounds.

“It’s important for tutors to represent the student body there, which is very ethnically diverse,” Haynes said. “You want the person who tutors and mentors you to be able to relate to you as well.”

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