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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America



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Tribal Study Center Opens its Doors


by Sarah Villicana, The Porterville Recorder


credits: Daniel Syre II, 10, writes a letter to the governor after school at the Tribal Learning Center in Porterville. (Recorder photo by Chieko Hara)


Daniel Syre II, 10, writes a letter to the governor after school at the Tribal Learning Center in Porterville. (Recorder photo by Chieko Hara) A fledgling tutoring program is taking off - to the point where spacious new digs are a reality. Associates of the Tule River Indian Study Center in Porterville hosted an open house Wednesday to celebrate their relocation to a bigger and better building on West Olive Avenue in the Town and Country Shopping Center. The after-school tutoring program is fully sponsored by the Tule River Tribal Council and targets children from kindergarten to high school who are affiliated with the Tule River Indian Tribe.

"What we do is provide assistance with homework, reading and math through a personalized learning program," said Program Director John Focke. "With the total support of the Tribal Council, the teachers and the parents, we are achieving fantastic success."

Tribal members, teachers and school administrators were invited to visit the learning center to see how the program is run and to observe the one-on-one interaction between teacher and student.

The spacious building with high ceilings is divided into cubicles where tutors can work privately with students. Visitors could find students working with tutors as they finished the day's homework or occupied themselves with educational tools ranging from the large assortment of flash cards, to workbooks and picture puzzles.

"The personal attention and the quality of our teachers is what gives us the ability to take a student where they may not be able to take themselves," said Focke.

Instructors for tutoring program are required to posses teaching credentials and freely boast over the maximum 3-to-1 student-teacher ratio.

"I've worked for other after-school programs, but the small groups are what really makes the difference," said Peggy Newlin, a tutor and first grade teacher at Westfield School. "We have very close contact with the students, the parents and the teachers."

The new location, previously the Clifton Flower and Garden Shop, enables the program to accommodate more students as it enters into its fourth year.

"We moved here two months ago. It's been great to have four times the space we were working with before," said Angie Camp, a tutor with the program. "This program originally started with two tutors and six to eight kids."

Almost four years after the program's inception, participation has grown to include 14 instructors and 45 students.

Students involved the program attend sessions from one to four days a week, depending on their needs. They are picked up directly from school and are driven to the center, where a tutor assists them in understanding and completing their homework, focuses on any subjects that need special attention, or even discusses problems they may be faced with at home or at school.

Four days a week, Amber Perez, 8, is dropped off at the learning center to receive help in math and English.

"I like coming here," said Perez. "They show me how to divide and how to write paragraphs."

"A lot of teachers comment on how the kids have started to turn in their homework every day," said Camp. "They also see an improvement in their attitude."

Beginning June 28, the study center will offer summer sessions with morning and afternoon classes available.

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