Presbyterian College earns Center of Excellence grant to fund tutoring program in public schools

February 19, 2024

Presbyterian College has earned a three-year Centers of Excellence grant from the S.C. Commission on Higher Education to establish a program that puts college education majors in public school classrooms to tutor children in reading.

Dr. Patti Jones, director of PC’s education department, said the current Centers of Excellence grants are designed to train future teachers.

“Partnering with Lander, we decided to target intensive tutoring and reading,” she said. “We’re using a coaching model where all of our students are taking a reading class for the state’s Read to Succeed credit, then we’re sending them into the school districts to do five more hours of targeted intensive tutoring.”

PC will receive nearly $200,000 in grant funding over the three years to help 10 future teachers reach students in neighboring districts, including Laurens County school districts 55 and 56, Greenwood County school districts 50, 51, and 52, and the Newberry County School District.

Pending Institutional Review Board approval, the paid tutors will begin working with students in kindergarten through the second grade, Jones said.

“It’s been really good so far,” she said. “We’ve been into it for three and a half weeks, and so far, so good. Our students have been meeting and observing kindergarteners and first graders and everybody seems to be really enthusiastic and eager to work with the kids.”

PC students are gaining valuable additional teaching experience through the tutoring program. But, Jones explains, the real benefits will go to schools where young students struggle to develop their reading skills.

“Some of the youngest students weren’t in school when COVID-19 hit, but some of the others were affected by it and are behind in their reading,” she said. “Having trained tutors go there to work with them intensively will help those children and should help the school with their test scores.”

Jones called the program a novel solution to a critical educational issue.

“This Center for the Advancement of Reading and Literacy Instruction is the first of its kind in the state,” she said. “No one has ever done this type of Centers of Excellence grant before. The Commission on Higher Education, the state legislature, and the board have been impressed and excited about this partnership.”

So are the participating PC students, she added.

“They love it,” Jones said. “They love working with kids. And because they’re working with a teacher, they are aligning their lesson plays with what the teacher is doing in reading and taking that targeted intensive coaching model to really drill down on areas of weakness for five hours a week. It’s pretty impactful.”