Andy Lewis –
When asked about what they thought Tomorrow’s Teachers is, some students responded that “it is some sort of club for Ed majors.” Another student’s response was that it is “something that pops up on the campus announcements on my email twice a week.” For many students, that’s all it is, an organization on campus that they receive emails for, but don’t actually know what it is.
Well, while the name seems fitting to the organization’s purpose, it can be a bit misleading to the informed student.
Simply stated, Tomorrow’s Teachers is a program designed to help kids. Tomorrow’s Teachers President Amy Zahner says, “The whole intention of Tomorrow’s Teachers was to create this free tutoring program so that students who struggled in school could come get help from prospective education majors. Students from K-8 around the Jacksonville area are invited to come twice a week for free tutoring on Mondays and Wednesdays 6:30-7:30 in Crispin 206.”
Now, while that is the original idea, the common misconception about it is that only education majors are welcome. This is not the case. Anyone is welcome and encouraged to come help volunteer to tutor a kid even if it’s just once a week.
Currently, the program relies on two things: the kids from the community and volunteer students. The program was in a predicament last semester due to a shortage of the former. For years, flyers were handed to every student in the Jacksonville school district. However, recently the district has not allowed Tomorrow’s Teachers to do this because, apparently, it is a waste of paper. Instead, the district stuck a notification about it on the school website and now next to no district students show up. To compensate, the organization has been focusing more on getting flyers to charter school students like 8 Points and Salem Lutheran.
Along with the distribution of flyers schoolwide to those charter schools, teachers at South Elementary School have personally taken it upon themselves to print and hand out flyers to their students. As a result, student attendance is back to normal averaging around 20 kids a night. That’s great for the program except that now there is a shortage of tutors.
As of February 9, Tomorrow’s Teachers has held five nights of tutoring this Spring semester. The IC volunteer to K-8 student ratios are as follows: 7 to 16 on Jan. 26, 6 to 22 on Jan 28, 13 to 19 on Feb. 2, 7 to 6 on Feb. 5 (schools sent home early due to bad weather conditions), and 6 to 20 on Feb. 9.
With those kinds of turnout rates, President Zahner raises the point : “When we don’t have enough tutors and everyone’s taking 3 or 4 kids, we have to ask ourselves if they are really getting the help they need.” She urges more education majors to step up to help the kids. In her words, “it’s just one hour twice a week, or even just once a week is a huge help.”
After all, the whole point of Tomorrow’s Teachers aligns with the teaching profession–to help the kids.
Amy’s last statement goes out to the Illinois College campus: “I just don’t understand; where are our Ed people? We’ve only been getting 6 or 7 volunteers a night, and they aren’t even all in education. That first night this semester, on Jan 26, 4 of the 7 tutors don’t even have anything to do with education or kids; they just care.”
Andy Lewis, from Biggsville, Illinois, is a freshman who is undeclared but planning on majoring in English with a Secondary Education concentration at Illinois College. Andy is an active member of Tomorrow’s Teachers and writer for The Rambler.