The Community Problem Solver group TALK has seen their students improve.
Before the first bell even rings at Rymfire Elementary to start the school day, learning is already happening in one classroom as fifth- and sixth-graders tutor kindergartners through second-graders.
The Community Problem Solvers group “TALK,” which stands for Talking About Literacy to Kids, sees the value in tutoring their peers at an early stage — before they get behind grade level.
Teacher Caryn Burris and eight Roadrunners studied data from the school’s iReady diagnostic from the October to determine which students need additional help out of the classroom.
“I think the focus for some time has been that once kids are failing or once they’re behind, then there’s ways to step in,” Burris said. “But if we prevent them from every getting behind, then we won’t have to spend as much time catching them up.”
TALK holds 45-minute tutoring sessions — with interactive games and activities — before school on Tuesdays and Fridays, in different six- to eight-week sessions throughout the year.
Small huddles of two to three students sat in a classroom on Tuesday, March 5, as older students encouraged them in activities that focused on sight words, phonics and phonemic awareness.
“We have an iReady diagnostic, and we saw the grades before on the first one and then the grades on the second one,” fifth-grader and tutor Hannah Zublionis said. “It went up a lot on those grades, so we know there’s improvement. And the teachers and parents are saying that their kids are improving.”
Tutor and sixth-grader Nyzarria Brock said responses from parents and teachers has been encouraging.
“I knew I used to struggle in grades like this because there wasn’t tutoring,” Nyzarria said. “There’s mostly tutoring for grades 3 and older because that’s when we start getting our (Florida Standards Assessments).”
Sixth-grader and tutor Mary Wilcox knows the value of helping students before it’s too late.
“If they don’t get it now, it might affect them their whole life and it might be harder for them to learn it,” Mary said.
Before the year ends, TALK hopes to train current fourth- and fifth-graders to tutor so that the program can continue next year even without the CmPS title.
In addition to the in-school tutoring, TALK sends each student home with materials to help them practice what they’ve learning. Burris said the group received an $800 grant from Flagler County Education Foundation for the lesson materials.
When the bell rings to start the school day, the tutors escort their mentees to class, building a more positive connection, Burris said.
“It is so rewarding to see our kids become so proud of them for what they do,” Burris said. “I think it’s a valuable lesson on helping others and helping with their confidence and making them feel good.”