As schools prepare to open for the 2010-2011 academic year, volunteers with the non-profit JustREAD and JustMATH tutoring programs are calling on the Los Altos and Los Altos Hills communities to donate their time and money to help struggling students remain in school and graduate.
The tutoring program – in its fifth year aiding Mountain View’s middle and high school students to keep up in their classes, pass the California Exit Exam and graduate – needs financial help to increase staff and pursue opportunities for innovation and expansion, according to Molly McCrory, co-founder and board president.
“We are at a pivotal stage in growth and poised to impact more students but facing a funding crisis,” McCrory said. “We need general operating support that includes key staff like a program director and site coordinator.”
Although businesses hire high school students who are literate, they offer little help, she said.
“We are fortunate to have an army of 150 unpaid volunteers – 120 of them trained tutors – who are determined to educate students who are failing and may not graduate without our intervention,” McCrory added. “We also have the overwhelming support of the schools we serve. People believe in what we do.”
JustREAD and JustMATH tutors currently serve students referred by their teachers in the Mountain View middle and high schools. Los Altos High School does not participate despite its need, McCrory said.
“Los Altos High has a large percentage of deserving students, but they don’t have room for us,” she said.
Los Altos resident and Just- READ volunteer Chris Hoberg has tutored more than eight Mountain View High School students in the past two years and said she finds it “incredibly rewarding,” despite challenges.
“I feel like I get much more out of it than what I put in,” Hoberg said. “As a tutor, you start getting a view into your students’ lives, and some of their stories are heart wrenching.”
Many of the students have parents working around the clock just to live in the area or no parents at all, do not get adequate sleep or food, take multiple buses to get to school every day and hold jobs, sometimes more than one, Hoberg said.
They don’t have the basics of life that we often take for granted, but they show up to school every day despite their disadvantages, she added.
“Their resilience and willingness to learn is unbelievable,” Hoberg said. “Most of them have been smarter and quicker than their grades would indicate.”
The volunteers’ efforts, combined with students’ drive to succeed, has contributed to the program’s success, according to McCrory.
“Not one of our students has dropped out of school,” she said.
A program fact sheet states that 100 percent of the program’s seniors during the 2008-2009 school year passed the exit exam and graduated.
As the number of at-risk students increases, so does the demand for more tutors and funding, McCrory said.
With tutoring set to begin next month when schools reopen – students for the program have already been identified – the need to raise funds is imminent, she said.
For more information, visit www.justreadcenters.org.