Among the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the shift to remote learning has been particularly tough, requiring major adjustments from both students and parents alike.  

Members of the Women in Science-EWU Club, or WiSE, observed this community need and were determined to help. Thus was born the K-12 Tutoring Program, a digital tutoring initiative aimed at supporting the STEM needs of students in the Cheney and EWU community.

EWU students Taryn Wilson, the club’s president, and Makenna Britton, its secretary, lead the project under the guidance of their advisor, Amber McConnell, a lecturer in EWU’s Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics. As part of the program, tutors and students meet each week via Zoom to study and develop remote-learning skills.

“It’s a great way to support what your child is learning, especially when it’s a subject that you yourself are not so strong in,” says Cheney resident Shona Short, who has two children enrolled. “The tutors provided another teacher-figure to learn from and often in much more interesting ways than from me. Our tutors were organized, enthusiastic and flexible. I appreciated that they picked up my slack as a first-time homeschooling mom, enhanced the learning experience and were an outside influence for my kids in a quiet year at home,”

The program, which was establish last September, is free of charge to parents in Cheney and the broader EWU community. All of the participating tutors are EWU students and alumni; all work diligently to provide a positive, safe and engaging online learning experience for students and their families.

“I enjoy helping students make connections and really understand what they are learning in math,” says Suzie Killian, who tutored an 8th grade math student this year. “I think it built his confidence in math again, especially with the change of class being online. My student needed the extra one on one, but still had some previous math skills. [He] is keeping up with his math homework now.”

The WiSE club is dedicated to supporting women in STEM; that is, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It works to establish mentorships between club members and youth in the community to encourage students to pursue STEM studies. It intends to continue its K-12 Tutoring Program next year, as well, to assist with online education as well as the transition back to in-person classes.

Program organizers encourage those interested in enrolling, as either a student or tutor, to email Wilson at wiseclub@ewu.edu.