MARCH 28, 2007

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Students help students at OPSU

Thanks to Oklahoma Panhandle State University education students, a dream has become a reality for an elementary school in Guymon. In spring 2006, OPSU and Academy Elementary school combined their efforts to launch a new tutoring program, After School Student Intervention Specialized Tutoring, or ASSIST.

The ASSIST program began when Barbara Mallard, parent liaison for Guymon Elementary Schools, realized after delivering several educational activities to student’s homes that many children do not have the parental support necessary for them to succeed in their educational endeavors. It was not that the parents did not want to help; it was they were not able to help due to language barriers or working long hours late into the evenings. Mallard felt the need to find a way to assist these students.

Mallard decided to visit with Jason Watkins, Academy School Principal, about her concerns of how these students can receive help. Mallard suggested a tutoring program and Watkins gave her the okay.

“It has always been a dream of mine to start an after school-tutoring program,” Watkins said.

Watkins suggested the she visit with Gerald Mihelic, the field placement director at OPSU, about using education major students as the tutors.

Mallard and Watkins set up a few guidelines and visited with Mihelic and Dr. Pauline Hodges, professor at OPSU, about their expectations of the program. Mihelic and Hodges agreed that this would be an excellent opportunity for the college students to get some “hands on” experience while working with young students.

The ASSIST program caters to the educational needs of kindergarten through fourth grade students who are failing in math and reading. Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, 50 elementary students are in Academy’s cafeteria working diligently on their assignments. Alongside the elementary students are OPSU students, Mihelic, volunteer teachers and aides, Watkins, Mallard and even her husband, a December 2006 OPSU elementary education graduate, volunteering his time to assist these students.

Sometimes it takes a lot of empathy and dedication to make dreams come true. Without the help of the OPSU education department, their students, and volunteers from Academy school, this program would not have become a reality.

Contact: Laura Hays, OPSU, (580)349-1354.