Tutors help students with schoolwork, and play games with them at Legacy Christian Church. The tutors help local students as part of City Gospel Mission’s Whiz Kids Tutoring and Mentoring program. This “branch” of the Greater Cincinnati program was started about 10 years ago. Sydney Murray/The Harrison Press
Tutoring program makes difference
Sixteen-year-old Amanda Putney first started going to the Whiz Kids program at Legacy Christian Church when she was in first grade, and the tutoring program had such an impact on her life that she is back serving as a tutor.
Whiz Kids Tutoring and Mentoring program within City Gospel Mission serves 800 children in Greater Cincinnati, and aims to help kids in a multitude of ways.
As part of the program this year, 29 students from Harrison and Whitewater Valley elementary schools come to the church every Thursday evening from October to May. The Harrison “branch” of the program began in 2008.
Tutors work one-on-one with students on their homework and reading skills, and also build relationships. After their work is complete, the pair have a chance to play games and bond.
After the tutoring session, the kids also have time for singing, dancing, and playing. They also sometimes take field trips.“This program deserves more recognition,” said Putney.
Frank Henegar has been tutoring for about 10 years, which included helping a student all the way from third to eighth grade.
“I enjoy it so much,” said Henegar, who said he tries to get the kids to like school.
Seven-year tutor Jenny Engel said the group has become like a family and they miss people when they aren’t able to make it.
The program is a neat opportunity to work with kids, she said, and added that it helps them socially, behaviorally, and spiritually.
Teachers and staff at the schools identify which students should come to the Whiz Kids program.
Willisa Redford, who helps oversee the program, said teachers usually report that, after only a couple of weeks, they see improvements in students’ confidence, attitudes, and willingness to try in the classroom.
Redford said they also see a rise in student test scores.
Southwest Local School District Superintendent John Hamstra said this has been a phenomenal partnership with the elementary schools.
“We love it,” said Hamstra. “We appreciate all the work they do.”
Redford said they are hoping to recruit more volunteers so they can help even more students.
Tutors come from all backgrounds and range in age from high school to their 70s, said Redford.
She said they prefer volunteers be at least 16 years old.
They mostly serve students from first to eighth grade, and she said they try to keep the same student with the same tutor.
She said the program can change a child’s life, and an opportunity to share Christ, character, honesty, and the importance of being a good citizen.
“We can touch a child’s life and make a difference,” said Redford.