Tutoring program plans to expand
Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 6:00 pm
By: By The Associated Press
The Messenger 11.21.12
MEMPHIS (AP) — A peer tutoring program that has seen success at schools in Tennessee and Mississippi is planning to expand.
Charlie McVean started Peer Power seven years ago at his Memphis alma mater, East High School. The program pays students willing to tutor struggling underclassmen up to $10.50 an hour. Since its beginnings, the program has spread to seven schools in Memphis and Mississippi and reaches about 1,000 students who need help with classwork.
McVean, the chairman and CEO of McVean Trading & Investments, announced this month plans to double the number of schools participating and expand the idea around the nation.
“I know it is going to be successful, because I know it works,” McVean told The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/QMNXof) when he announced plans for the expansion.
He said a website is live and he’s looking for board members and a person to lead development of the program.
Peer Power is based on competition and performance-based pay — lessons McVean learned through his own success. It also includes a lesson from his mother, who taught in a one-room school: “The better and older students, properly directed, helped lead and direct the younger kids,” McVean says.
“In the simplest terms, our plan was to integrate the strengths of the one-room schoolhouse — with some from the American free enterprise system — to create a scalable, portable and powerful system of teaching.”
He said competition is built into grades between student teams — and it pays about the same as working in fast food restaurants.
Whitehaven High School senior Caylon Pettis tutors underclassmen six hours a week “in everything from Algebra I to AP calculus” and said there’s no magic involved in helping most students.
“Most of them don’t have parents or a lot of people in their lives that can relate to them or guide them,” said Pettis, who doesn’t believe in “leaving people in the dark. Mostly, these kids are left by themselves. We unlock the success in them,” he said.
“You just talk to them; just be friendly with them. Start encouraging them.”
The program started at Whitehaven in the fall of 2007, and that spring algebra scores increased 16 percentage points to 84 percent.
The expansion campaign also noted that 2010 valedictorians at the five Peer Power Memphis schools worked as tutors in the program.
“Virtually all the money we are going to raise will be used to pay tutors,” said McVean, who plans to continue his $600,000 to $700,000 annual investment. “A good idea spreads like wildfire.”
Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com