Up” to Help Carson Middle Schools
Alumna Karen Lugo (Class
of ’05, M.A., English/TESL) enjoyed her job as
a tutor in the Center for Learning and Academic Support
“I really like working with students,” she
says. “I’m a pretty good writer and I heard
about the opportunities here. I knew it would look
good on my resume and it would be great experience
in terms of hands-on learning and how to actually get
in the trenches and do the dirty work. You have to
assess a student’s issues within seconds and
be able to adjust whatever program you’re going
to do with them within that half hour. I got regular
students who came in twice a week. You really grew
with them, I found it so rewarding.”
The former teacher’s
enthusiasm so impressed CLASS
director Caron Mellblom that
she offered Lugo the position of assistant director
for the Gear Up program on campus. Funded by a six-year
$306,120 grant from U.S. Department of Education,
the national program is a collaboration between school
districts and local universities.
“She’s so energetic about the project,” states
Mellblom. “Karen has worked for us as a tutor
the last few semesters. In addition, she had been credentialed
in elementary and secondary education, so she seemed
like a natural choice.”
Gear Up sends students from CSUDH to Carson schools
as tutors and mentor-models for 1,869 6th graders at
Caroldale Avenue Elementary School; Glenn Hammond Curtiss
Middle School; Andrew Carnegie Middle School; and Stephen
M. White Middle School. The program will expand to
include the 7th and 8th grades within the next two
years. Lugo underscores the value of the program beyond
“We're hoping to help
keep them in school and give them an example of students
who have chosen to go on to college,” she says. “The
goal is to capture those kids before we lose them and
to provide them with somebody they can look at and
I can do that, too.’”
The tutors will be paid $9.66
an hour and will be expected to work 20 hours a week.
Lugo is looking for students with an interest in education
or working with kids. While a 3.0 GPA is preferred,
she adds that requirement is flexible with the
right student and
emphasizes the benefits of the experience, particularly
to students who aspire to teach.
“It’s huge,” she enthuses. “When
you go into teaching the first year, there are so many
things you learn that you didn’t hear in school.
This is where we can bridge that gap for those students.
“They will have practical teaching experience
with one-on-one and small group tutoring and work in
a classroom with a master teacher. They’ll learn
from the teacher, the tutoring experience, and get
the bureaucratic maze that teachers have to deal with.
The reality is going to be really good for them.”
Interviews are now in progress.
Lugo states that concurrent enrollment in Teacher
Education 490 is required “to
not only help them with the nuts and bolts of what
to do, but also give them a forum to discuss problems
and concerns, what to do better, and interface with
other tutors. The whole purpose is for us to monitor
and make sure [tutors] know they’re being helped
and not just out on a limb.”
For Lugo, the greatest rewards lie in the effort to
diminish the high dropout rate of middle schoolers,
particularly minority students.
“The kids don’t quite have their walls
up yet, so they can still be touched somehow,” she
hopes. “Many of our students also come from the
surrounding areas, so they will have a lot of cultural
similarities. So we’re going to have a lot of
people just like them in the schools, providing them
with mentor-models who can hopefully keep those kids
in school who might otherwise get discouraged or disenchanted.
“If we can make it more accessible and interesting
and possible for somebody, it will all be worth it.
Education is the answer. It’s the only hope that
we have for our kids.”
To apply for a Gear Up tutoring position,
contact Karen Lugo at (310) 243-3256 or email@example.com.
For more information on Gear Up, visit http://www.ed.gov/programs/gearup/index.html.