Category Archives: tutoring

Building Bridges: Campus Community Connections in St. Cloud

By Maria Ortiz

With help from a capacity building grant through Minnesota Campus Compact, St. Cloud State University (SCSU) and St. Cloud Independent School District (ISD) 742 developed, “Building Bridges: Campus Community Connections.” The goals of the project were: 1) to enhance and deepen the partnership and collaboration between SCSU and ISD 742 in the face of service learning budget reductions; and 2) to meet the mutual needs identified to enrich student learning among specific ISD 742 and SCSU classrooms and courses.

This project enabled SCSU to increase the infrastructure necessary to support community service-learning; providing opportunities for classroom theory to be practiced in a real-time setting and further institutionalizing service-learning and civic engagement SCSUas a core campus value. This collaborative work created service-learning experiences, fostered college aspirations among ISD 742 students, and met the educational needs and goals of both K-12 and university students. According to Beth Knutson-Kolodzne, SCSU Volunteer Connection Coordinator, even though the grant period is over, the projects it helped to create have continued to produce results.

The Building Bridges project focused on three activities; Reading Tutoring, Spanish Immersion, and English Language Leaner (ELL). The Reading Tutor Project involves SCSU Students in a Special Education class with students’ 4th-6th grade at Lincoln Elementary School in St. Cloud. Through this partnership, ISD 742 students improved their confidence and performance in the subject areas identified by the teachers and SCSU students are provided practical experience in the subject area of their specific course/major.  “The tutoring project still occurs with Lincoln Elementary school with the Special Ed. (SPED) 200 class at SCSU.  This also occurs among the teachers at Lincoln and the special education faculty at SCSU,” explained Knutson-Kolodzne.

The Spanish Immersion Project involves SCSU students in upper division Spanish courses working with students in grades K-1 at Clearview Elementary School in Clear Lake, MN. Through this partnership, language acquisition skills and proficiency are enhanced among all parties. The Spanish Immersion program with Clearview Elementary school is coordinated through the department of Foreign Languages’, Spanish teaching faculty and includes this as both curricular service-learning and co-curricular volunteering.

The English Language Learner (ELL) Project involves a collaboration to coordinate and facilitate a Career & Technical Education Academy for English Language Learners in grades 9-12. This partnership exposes ELL students to college and career options and provides them the opportunity to engage in exploring both. According to Knutson-Kolodzne, “We used to do this over the course of 4-5 days for 2 summers with ELL students in grades 9-12 in District 742.  Now, starting this semester (Spring 2010), we have created a Career & Technical Education (CTE) program focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) initiatives with students, faculty and staff at SCSU that have expertise or interested in those areas.  It is now an 8-week program, which takes place every Tuesday for approximately 3 hours after school.  We call it CTE-STEM for ELL.”

Examples of impact on students are evident through excerpts from SCSU students’ reflection journals from the Spanish Immersion project at Clearview Elementary School:

“This was a great experience for me because I learned that using my Spanish is easier than I thought. It has been great practice and has given me more confidence with my ability to speak.’

“I have learned the importance of taking the time to volunteer. I realize how much I really enjoy doing something for no pay. I think often times people are so concerned about what we can get for ourselves out of everything we do and most of the time people want money. It is nice to revert back to just doing something for the greater good. It feels nice to give.”

Support from the MNCC grant allowed both SCSU and ISD 742 to more fully appreciate the needs, capacities, and energy involved in creating positive, effective partnerships.  The many activities involved in the project allow partners to find better, more effective and efficient methods of working together.


Campuses Helping Local Charter School “Go Green”

By Maria Ortiz

The Minnesota Internship Center High School (MNIC) is just starting the journey to becoming a “Green School.” MNIC committed to teaching their students how day-to-day practices at school impact the environment.  They’re achieving that goal with some help from local colleges and universities.

“Over the past five years MNIC has been building relationships,” says Amy Libman, Director of Student Support Services. The University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas and Macalester College are all partners in the “Green Project” Libman said, “This is an opportunity for MNIC students to learn green skills and also be exposed to the university experience.” High school interns will have to have excellent attendance and grades, be juniors or seniors, and have strong staff recommendations.

Two college interns, Max, from Macalester College and Jane, from the University of Minnesota, have a strong commitment and interest in the implementation of the green grant. “They each had experiences that helped them develop skills that they could bring to the internship,” Libman explained. College interns need to be willing to commit 6-10 hours per week and work with Libman and the entire team. Most interns are earning credit from their universities (but Libman does not make this a requirement). There are also service-learning college volunteers involved in this project.

This is a compelling project because “MNIC serves populations (i.e., immigrants and urban low income students) traditionally not involved in cutting edge industries and the green movement” Libman stated. The MNIC student population is composed of 98% students of color, both American born and immigrant, that are qualify for free or reduced lunch under the Federal Food program. These populations are in need of both training and income. This project is a chance to invest in the future by training students for green industry jobs, giving stipend internship opportunities, as well as the chance for students to become leaders educating one another and their communities.

Currently MNIC has begun to alter its practices to be more environmentally responsible. The Environmental Science class at one of the five campuses runs a recycling campaign for that campus. Their waste is inconsistently divided into trash and recycling. During this project, they will launch the following initiatives:

  • Become a member of MN Waste Wise and take part in their services;
  • Improve their waste management practices by separating out organic waste , increase recycling practices thus reducing trash amounts;
  • Empower MNIC students to be green leaders by devoting part of the required Environmental Science class curriculum to the study of garbage and waste management (60 students for 4 semesters over 2 years);
  • Provide 2 MNIC staff and students the training needed to improve sustainability practices at school, home and in the community through partnership with MN Waste Wise.
  • Provide service projects to the community with the possible partnership with American Indian OIC, MNIC interns and Environmental Science class. This environmental project could involve: helping MN Waste Wise conduct audits and waste sorts in surrounding communities, building compost bins for community gardens, etc.

Over the two year period of this project MNIC will be able to lower the cost of waste removal by reducing their amount of trash. By maximizing organic diversion and the associated cost savings, MNIC hopes to make organics at least a break even proposition. Grant monies will provide them with the necessary permanent supplies such as waste containers. Consumable supplies will be paid for with the savings from waste management efforts.

MNIC students will continuously be trained in organic waste management and other sustainability initiatives through more partnerships with local colleges and universities. Their increased awareness, knowledge and commitment will increase their capacity to carry on with these initiatives.