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In our first full school year at our new Skokie location, ICJA students reached out to the Middleton Elementary School next door to tutor students on a weekly basis.

The student-led initiative began when ICJA senior Ethan Lewis wanted to take advantage of ICJA’s proximity to the Skokie public school by launching a tutoring system between the two schools. He spoke to the ICJA administration to help get it started and then spread the word to his fellow students. Twenty ICJA students expressed interest in spending their Thursday lunch period tutoring children at Middleton, focusing on a wide variety of subjects for students up to fifth grade. Some students help out with math and science homework while others join a drama class to assist the teacher. Two to three ICJA students were assigned to one classroom, and each week they return to that same room so that the Middleton students to get to know their ICJA tutors.

Lewis says, “I collaborated with fellow students and administrators at both schools. The program benefits everyone involved: young students receive individualized attention, while my peers gain teaching experience that will help them be able to teach others throughout their future education and careers.”

Middleton third grade teacher Mrs. Kasten says, “Kids look up to the tutors as mentors, who motivate them to continue in school. They see how the ‘big kids’ value education, and they look up to them as role models.”

Senior Ariella Zwelling says, “It’s meaningful to me because I have an opportunity to enhance a child’s experience in his or her classroom. I have the opportunity to help a child who needs extra help but may not always receive the help he needs in class.”

Senior Jennifer Sorscher adds, “I felt a sense of accomplishment by helping the Middleton students learn how to read a clock and gain a sense of empowerment.”

Not only does this tutoring program benefit the Middleton students, it also gives the ICJA students a unique opportunity as well. “Tutoring at Middleton gives me the opportunity to work with such a diverse group of kids that I would not be able to do anywhere else,” says sophomore Taliah Soleimai.

Junior Gail Schneiderman reflects on her positive experience tutoring at Middleton, “It’s really fun to go over there and help the first graders. It makes me smile knowing that I am helping to make a small difference in their lives.”

This tutoring program will continue for the duration of this school year and, with continued ICJA leadership and participation, this partnership will continue and grow for many years to come.

This article by Avital Raff and Sarah Russman was written for The Crown Prints student newspaper.

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