‘Virtual Tutoring’ Trades Time In Traffic For Time With Kids

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DALLAS (CBS11) – For months now, Sharon Birt has been a voice of encouragement—helping 7-year-old Audrey with her reading at Dallas’ Cochran Elementary, but they met for the first time Thursday.

“If she calls you, you gotta press okay… and put the headphones on,” explained Audrey.

Their weekly reading sessions originated online.

“Just watching her grow and listening to her read and her becoming more confident and comfortable– that means the world to me,” said Birt.

Using laptops and phone lines, tutors connect with students in nine DISD schools through a nonprofit called TutorMate.

“The need is always great,” said Shelley Craig with TutorMate. “We would love to expand even beyond the 11 schools we have on our waiting list.”

Schools are waiting to become a part of the program because there aren’t enough tutors. According to Craig, corporate sponsorships are especially needed because often the companies help offset the costs, as well as provide tutors.

Thursday, a group of Bank of America employees arrived bearing treats and snacks and books: they are encouraged to volunteer during the workday.

“It’s just 30 minutes, once a week, you can do it from your desk,” said Linh Mai with Bank of America. “You can make the time.”

Tutors also say students are so comfortable during the sessions, that they forget they’re learning. “It takes a lot of the pressure away because it’s over the phone. There’s no judgment,” said Mai.

And the very best part of tutoring while you work, is that teachers say the program works.

“”I’ve seen them grow drastic levels,” said Cochran first grade teacher Renata Isa. “So it’s been really nice to have an extra set of hands really get involved with my students.”

Less pressure for the kids and a big a payoff for the tutors. When CBS11 asked Audrey what she wanted to be when she grew up—she pointed to Sharon and said, “I want to be just like her.”

More from Robbie Owens
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