Four words in the Las Cruces Public Schools mission statement always stand out to me. “Student-centered learning environment.” I think about this often and during my 18 years with LCPS have always sought to further this fundamental goal. What does this look like? How do we know? How do we make it better?
Early during the COVID-19 pandemic, student tutoring and academic support quickly emerged as a need. The traditional structures we had relied on in the past were not possible due to the closure of school buildings. However, student leaders across the city were quietly thinking about how to leverage their skills with technology and the need for tutoring to serve the community. By summer of 2020, student leaders were laying out the framework for two tutoring programs and took the lead in solving this problem.
Tutoring by Two was founded by Lauren and Nyasia, two high school students at Arrowhead Park Early College High School. Since March of 2020, they have organized a relationship-based ongoing math tutoring program. They have developed intake interviews, assigned student department heads, built a website, and worked with local media to get the word out. They are actively serving students again this semester with plans to grow even more next year. This program focuses on long-term mathematics tutoring as well as test preparation. At the same time, Stephen and Adelaide, two Las Cruces High School students that are members of the LCPS Student Advisory Council, were organizing a different tutoring program. Their program organized student tutors from around the district to build a consistent ’drop-in’ tutoring schedule. The student leaders coordinated the adult assistance they needed, conducted tutor trainings, built a complete Canvas site, and have developed a communication system for student participants, student tutors, parents, and teachers. To date, the group has conducted over 1,300 tutoring sessions.
During Spring Break 2021, as a result of their innovation and desire to serve, Lauren, Nyasia, Stephen and Adelaide were invited to lead a session at the New Mexico Public Education Department’s 2021 Now to Next Digital Learning Conference. As the only student presenters at the conference, through Zoom, they shared with the state of New Mexico their work and answered questions from teachers, administrators and superintendents around the state. The four students were joined by members of the LCPS team, including our Board of Education President Ray Jaramillo. Over and over again, the entire panel, led by the students, emphasized the need to create environments where students are the focus. During their 75-minute session, complete with data both groups had collected, I was amazed at how powerful a learning experience this was for all of us. This is what student-centered learning looks like. As we once again prepare for change in Las Cruces Public Schools, one of the most consistent and inspiring things has been the creativity and kindness of our students. Today, there are over 100 student tutors in LCPS – each a unique contributor to making LCPS and our community a better place. I am humbled by their service and thankful for their leadership.
For more information about Tutoring by Two or the LCPS Student Tutoring Program, please contact your child’s school.
-Josh Silver, Chief Technology Officer at Las Cruces Public Schools