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Future teachers to assist with Jefferson County summer school

ISSUED: 5 June 2017
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Jefferson County high school students who have to take math and science classes in summer school will get assistance this year from three future teachers from Shepherd University. Laurie Hercules, a math education major, and Peyton Lewis, an elementary education major, both of Martinsburg, and Deborah Alkire, a secondary education major from Harpers Ferry, will work for the public school system helping students complete the work required to graduate.

This is the second year for the partnership, which Dr. Karen Adams, assistant professor of mathematics and Shepherd’s math certification specialist, said benefits both Jefferson County and Shepherd students.

“Jefferson County has trouble hiring enough certified math teachers over the summer,” Adams said. “The high school students use computer-based learning programs to gain their recovery credits. This requires less direct instruction on the part of the teacher. Shepherd students are hired as ‘tutors’ to assist the students.”

Hercules, Lewis, and Alkire were hired through a competitive process that took into account their grade point average, class year at Shepherd, and major. They will provide tutoring help to the high school students as they work their way through the online course. Adams said getting the extra help from college students is a huge benefit.

“The high school students get a lot of individual attention from the Shepherd tutors,” Adams said.

Alexander White, coordinator of at risk programs in Jefferson County Schools, called the summer tutoring program a win-win for both Jefferson County Schools and Shepherd University students.

“The tutors get a chance to obtain experiential learning, which is a huge résumé booster, while our summer school students reap the benefit of having some one-on-one assistance,” White said. “Last year, data indicated that our pass rates in math might have likely been about 76 percent without the help of the tutors. With their assistance and dedication to our students, however, we had an 81.3 percent overall pass rate for all students taking math courses, which is a tremendously successful.”

Hercules, Lewis, and Alkire will work 50 hours over the summer, three days a week. This is the second summer Hercules is working with the Jefferson County students.

“It gives me more experience working at what my future job will be,” Hercules said. “And it is a huge, awesome feeling walking into the classroom and seeing students disappear because they had finished their curriculum and they could go on summer break. That is really rewarding.”

As the experienced member of this year’s tutoring team, Hercules has some advice for Lewis and Alkire.

“From day one be enthusiastic, be encouraging, and be positive,” she said. “Half the kids don’t want to be there because it’s summer break and they already failed it once, so they’re already having a negative attitude. If you come in positive and are encouraging, then they’re very receptive.”

“I am looking forward to working with the students of Jefferson County this summer,” Lewis said. “I think this experience will help me gain confidence while working in the field and help me to become a better teacher overall. I can’t wait to see what this opportunity brings.”

Adams said she’s thrilled future teachers from Shepherd have this opportunity to gain real-life experience.

“This work will look good on their résumés and will help them in the future when they become teachers,” Adams said.

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