“Once upon a time there was a little gingerbread man…” Cailin Guerins, senior, sits in front of a class of gaping five year olds, a picture book resting in her lap. Every student in the room, bright with primary colors and toys, is turned to face her.
“Ooh, I love this one!” yells a little boy. As Guerins continues the story, he calls out in chorus, “Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!”
At noon on a Tuesday, most high-schoolers are sitting in class – Guerins, however, is a few miles away in a kindergarten classroom at Trillium Creek Elementary. Guerins is a Primary Tutor, one of about a dozen students at West Linn High School who take a period out of their schedule to help out at a nearby elementary school. Tutors earn high school credit for reading to the children, helping out with homework and organizing the classroom.
“I love it!” Guerins said. “The kids are really young so they’re super cute. I always come back with something funny one of them has said.”
Guerins drives to the elementary school every day after lunch and signs in at the classroom, where she helps students learn how to read, write and learn new words. As well as being fun, this experience can also look good on college applications, depending on the major.
“I’m still deciding if I want to do something with childcare in the future, which would make this really helpful,” Guerins said.
Not only is the Primary Tutor program worthwhile to students, but teachers also appreciate the extra help.
“We love having students from the high school,” Holly Grabow, fifth grade teacher, said. “The kids enjoy it too because they can relate to one another and ask what high school is like. “
According to the teachers, sometimes the tutors are able to solve issues in the classroom that they can’t, because kids are more willing to relate to someone closer their age.
“I used to have a girl tutor a few years ago and she helped a lot with some of the drama in the classroom,” Grabow said. “The girls loved talking to her and they could work things out.”
Before a student can become a primary tutor, they must first prove their responsibility. Students need to handle leaving and returning to school on time, as well as having the patience to work with children. Applications for the program are available in the office.