WISCONSIN (SPECTRUM NEWS) -- Connecting to the classroom through virtual learning. This brand new program, created by Wisconsin universities, is in response to the health crisis and is helping younger students, stay on track.
Shareca Thompson turns her son's bedroom into a classroom, two times a week. Her 8-year-old meets with his tutor through zoom. For second grader, Kayden Barbee, this might be the next best thing to being in school.
For this session UW-Milwaukee junior, Alissa Ramczyk, tackles math first with Kayden. "It's a little bit different just being on a computer screen like sometimes the kids will get distracted. I'm not there to physically take the distraction away," she said.
Ramczyk was helping in Kayden's MPS classroom as part of a work-study program. She knows the four elementary students she's now helping virtually. "I miss them. So at least I get to see them and hopefully help make their day a little bit better," Ramczyk shared.
This online tutoring project is only two months old. It was launched in response to COVID-19 by St. Norbert College and UW-Oshkosh. Right now UW-Milwaukee students are tutoring around 90 youngsters ranging from kindergarten through 12th grade. The program is also helping families in 18 other states, even Canada!
The free program has been a relief for Kayden's mom. She told us "I need something to help me fill in the gap." Thompson works at Fiserv Forum and is now home, filling in as "teacher" for her son. She said the tutoring is a good challenge for Kayden. "It actually keeps him engaged so he still feels like he has that schedule, he has that structure of being in school."
Ramczyk makes sure to mix up the subjects during their sessions, and she pushes him. "I give him more challenging books. So it's pushing his reading level and his reading skills."
Ramczyk is studying to be an Occupational Therapist and wants to work with kids. This is giving her the experience she needs and more. "At the end of the day I know I'm at least helping a child, you know, succeed."
UWM plans to adapt the project and run a summer tutoring program. It's now also looking at continuing virtual tutoring as an option beyond the pandemic.