North Rowan High School’s (NRHS) Cavs After Hours has a new home. The school unveiled a new space dedicated to the after school tutoring program on Wednesday, September 8.
While after school tutoring isn’t a new concept at NRHS, teachers and administrators saw a greater need than ever in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they knew they needed help to address that need. Assistant principal Rebecca Rolfsmeyer began reaching out to the community for support, and the Rowan County Literacy Council immediately stepped in to help.
"I cannot express to you how grateful I am,” Rolfsmeyer said. “They knew what we needed and ran with it.”
"We rapidly assembled a pretty big team of tutors who started coming in during Cavs After Hours,” said Laurel Harry, executive director of the Rowan County Literacy Council. “It turned out to be a great experience for everybody. The students were really thriving with that extra help. The tutors were really making great connections with a lot of the students, and the results were great.”
Attendance for after school tutoring skyrocketed. Before the pandemic, NRHS typically served two or three students each day, but with the help of the volunteers from the Rowan County Literacy Council, that number jumped to 13, and more than 30 students received consistent help in Cavs After Hours.
What was the game changer? Relationships.
"The kids thrive with one-on-one attention. Students benefit from not only teacher support but also having consistent caring tutors," Rolfsmeyer said.
Harry said she personally developed an “incredibly strong connection” with the student she tutored. “I knew exactly what she was working on. She was comfortable asking questions. It was such a positive experience for both of us,” she said.
As students and tutors built those trusting relationships, students began to open up about basic physical needs as well. With the help of Communities in Schools, tutors were able to make sure many of those needs, such as food and clothing, were met.
The 2020 - 2021 school year ended, and as both NRHS and the Rowan County Literacy Council began planning for the next school year, Rolfsmeyer knew that the program needed a new space.
"We realized they needed to be centrally located, and we wanted it to be a space that was student-centered,” she said, adding that they also wanted it to be beautiful and welcoming.
So, Cavs After Hours moved to the heart of the school - beside NRHS’s Communities in Schools office and the school’s food pantry. It shares a hall with school counselors’ and administrators’ offices, and it’s also connected to the school’s courtyard so students and tutors can take their work outdoors in nice weather.
Rolfsmeyer said the move was also a statement to the volunteers who make Cavs After Hours possible. Allocating supplies and a space to the program shows appreciation for their hard work.
Your work is important. We believe the impact you’re having on our students lasts a lifetime,” she added.
The Rowan County Literacy Council is looking for even more volunteers to join them this year.
New tutors can go to the Rowan County Literacy Council’s website to sign up. The Literacy Council provides a user-friendly, online training, and Communities in Schools provides a background check. After completing these steps, volunteers can begin tutoring.
NRHS math teacher Cynthia Coleman said you don’t have to be a subject matter expert to be a great tutor. “When it comes down to it, you just need to have a heart and a love for kids and be willing to meet them where they are.”