Project Pass pairs Advanced Placement Monrovia High School students with struggling 6th and 9th graders. The youngsters being assisted had on or more failing grades in their first quarter of the school year. These grades were selected as the students have all just begun at a new school: the 6th graders at Middle School and the 9th graders at the high school.
The volunteer “Big Brothers” and “Big Sisters” work with the students to assist them not only in their studies, but also in adjusting to the new school environment, according to Duke Freyermuth who coordinates the Program. “One of the first things the tutors do is empty out the kids backpacks and help them to organize the backpacks and therefore themselves.”
Freyermuth explained that in pairing the older students with the younger ones, it is a sort of peer counseling, but at the same time a mentoring process. He explained that not only are the tutors all volunteers, but so are those they are helping. “No one is forced to participate, but everyone with a failing grade is given the opportunity to be tutored,” he said.
The parents of students eligible for the program are notified and asked to attend an informational meeting. According to Freyermuth, their acceptance of the program is required. This is the fifth year of operation for Project Pass. In the past the program was limited to the Middle Schools, however, this year, so many students volunteered to be tutors, it was expanded to include 9th graders at Monrovia High.
Of the 191 students who volunteered to become tutors, 74 have completed their training and are working with more than 80 younger students. The program will expand in the next semester according to Freyermuth. Some of those who volunteered to tutor had commitments such as Football which prevented them from participating during the first semester. (Yes there are Advanced Placement Students on the Football Team.)
Those already tutoring work two afternoons a week at both the Middle Schools: Clifton and Santa Fe, and at Monrovia High. They are not paid for their time. According to Freyermuth, when asked why they chose to give up their own time, the main reason given was “to help another human being.” Freyermuth did acknowledge that listed the activity on college applications “looks good” and that the activity fulfilled the community service requirement for graduation, but added, “ our tutors do it to help others, as much as for what it gives them.”
Project Pass has already won a Golden Bell Award as one of the outstanding academic programs statewide. Monrovia Reads, the local literacy foundation provided the initial funding for the program and continues to support it. In addition, the project has received grant funding through Monrovia Achieves. The Boys and Girls Club of the Foothills is also assisting the program and provides bus transportation for some of the tutors from the high school to the middle schools. The success of Project Pass has become a community project.
By Susan Motander