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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

College tutors at Drake

Starting next Monday, Grinnell Middle School students can receive after-school homework help from Grinnell College students at Drake Community Library. Drake Tutors, a new project taking flight led by Eleanor Price ’14, will offer homework help for students in 5th to 8th grade from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Price explained that her previous involvement at Drake Library inspired her to trailblaze the program this year.

Starting Monday, this room in the Drake Community Library will be used for tutoring. Photograph by Avery Rowlison.

“I worked at the library last year for my work study,” Price said. “I would watch all the kids get off the bus and go right to the [library] computers to socialize. There was minimal supervision.”

Price decided to start a tutoring program to give Grinnell Middle School students help on homework.

“The [Drake] Community Library is trying to address needs of literacy and math and science, by offering homework help so that students can meet expectations of classroom,” Price said.

These students are in need of the help, according to Community Service Coordinator Susan Sanning, whose own daughter attends Grinnell Middle School.

“The Middle School has been deemed an at-risk school,” Sanning said. “No Child Left Behind says you have to meet certain standards and our schools are struggling to meet those. I don’t think it’s because we have poor faculty, it’s because of the particular needs our kids have in this community.”

Price has held organizational meetings that gathered a large group of interested student volunteers and is pleased with the program’s progress.

“I had a couple of info sessions and 30 people are interested and want to volunteer,” Price said. I don’t know if I can use all of them, but it’s a good problem to have!”

Price is currently working to make Drake Tutors an official student group on campus in order to raise money to provide snacks for the kids as well as promote the longevity of the program.

“The idea is for me to create a program that can sustain itself without me,” Price said.

The development of Drake Tutors coincides with Sanning’s vision for the future of Community Service Program at the College.

“I am changing the program so students themselves can come up with the volunteer work,” Sanning said. “Students come up with a project they want to do, and they can make that happen.”

Price explained that her position with a Community Service Work/Study is new this year. She is paid as part of her financial aid to arrange community service programs—before this year there was no such position.

“By offering a wage to those who do not necessary have the privilege of time for volunteering, we are enabling an otherwise untapped group of students to have the opportunity to develop social justice leadership skills and make a sustainable, collaborative difference in the community [is] something they may not necessarily have had the opportunity to do otherwise,” Sanning said.

Price’s job is not limited to the conception and organization of the community service program—she also acts as a college liaison to the community as well as a community liaison to the College.

“[I] think it’s important to understand that this is a shift in the job description of work study students rather than a shift in the allocation of funding,” Price said.

The Drake Library tutoring program is completely student-run.

“This is not my program, this is the students program, mutually beneficial for school and community,” Sanning said. “Students at Grinnell need the community, and the community needs the students.”

Sanning asserted that the relationship between the Grinnell community and the College students is a truly collaborative one.

“The way I see service is that we don’t come is as the great white knight, but we come in working together to work along side people who are already making a difference,” Sanning said. “You have to be responsive to the culture you’re in.”

Sanning is clear about the important role Grinnell College students have within the community.

“You guys are awesome—people just don’t have access to you all the time.”

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