App State education majors tutor Hardin Park Elementary students, provide guidance, gain experience
Every Wednesday from 2-5 p.m., App State education majors turn from students to teachers when they tutor students from Hardin Park Elementary.
The tutoring program takes place at Perkinsville Baptist Church and helps 20 students on average every week.
Frankie Gioscio, Perkinsville youth pastor and director of the program, recruits education majors to volunteer as tutors.
“All of our tutors are aspiring teachers or will interact with students in their profession, making sure they have a genuine desire to see students excel and succeed in their education,” Gioscio said.
Gioscio grew up in Boone and is a Caldwell Community College graduate. He has worked with the tutoring program for almost three of the eight years it has existed.
Students receive tutoring either through placement by their parents or from recommendation by Hardin Park teachers.
Gioscio said 40% of tutored students are Perkinsville churchgoers. The other 60% are not a part of the church, but are sought out by Angela Bland.
Bland is a seventh-grade mathematics teacher at Hardin Park and a Perkinsville churchgoer. She acts as a liaison between the church and school. Her job is to identify students in the school who struggle academically and offer the program to parents.
Audrey Jones, a former volunteer for the program, was an elementary education major during her freshman year at App State. She said her time at Perkinsville led her to change her focus to middle grades education.
“Each week I prepared, coordinated and communicated with parents and teachers,” said Jones, who is now a senior. “It further confirmed my calling to teach middle school.”
Giosco said that even though each student comes from a different background, the emphasis is still on education.
“We’ve picked them up before from their houses. They often stay with us so that they can have a meal that night. These students can come from broken homes. We also have families that simply have a struggling student,” Giosco said.
Sara Davis, a current volunteer, said the program affects student success in various ways.
“I think it’s a great place to get homework help, but beyond that, I think it’s a great place to feel safe, welcome and loved,” Davis said.
Davis has volunteered in the program for three years. Apart from academic growth, Davis said she has noticed a more moving change in the students she tutors.
“What’s more important is the character development that I’ve watched unfold and how there are adults in the program who are really helping mold these kids’ lives,” Davis said.
Jones is student teaching during her last semester at App State and no longer volunteers. Despite this, she said she misses the program.
“On Wednesday afternoons, rain or shine, there was no greater joy than to walk across the street, meet our group and take them back to Perkinsville,” Jones said.