Providing Support to Children in the Kinship Care Program
A 30-minute virtual weekly tutoring program is making a big impact on children in The Villages Family Connection Network Kinship Care Program and its volunteers. Launched in October 2020, the tutoring program is a welcome support for grandparents who are raising younger relatives either short-term or permanently.
Currently, eight children in elementary and junior high school meet each week with one of two volunteers via Zoom. Two additional high school students receive assistance as they need help with assignments.
The time spent with tutors helps support kinship families who are learning how to navigate virtual learning during the pandemic, said Jessi O’Shea, Case Manager for the Family Connection Network Program who coordinates the tutoring.
“We’re seeing the kids’ grades improve and grandparents are so grateful because virtual learning has been a challenge for them,” said O’Shea. “Some of the kids have said the tutors helped explain something better than the teacher.”
The program started after North Central High School senior Beth Breman called Sharon Pierce, Villages President and CEO, offering to tutor children if there was a need. Beth Breman is not a stranger to The Villages and service of others. She is the daughter of the late Matt Breman for whom the organization’s annual Memorial Run 4Kids is named and daughter of Board of Directors member and former Chair, Rhonda Breman
“I want to be a teacher and like being able to help children,” Beth Breman said. “Tutoring is something I really enjoy, so I thought it would be a great way to serve The Villages.”
Pierce connected her with O’Shea to create a tutoring plan. Three volunteers were approved to tutor, including Beth Smith, a long-time supporter of Villages kids and retired kindergarten and special needs teacher. The third tutor, another North Central student, volunteered in the fall.
Smith said she makes time to plan for every session to be sure the children she tutors get what they need during the 30-minute session. “It’s been wonderful getting to know the children. I enjoy working with them,” Smith said. “Grandparents and teachers have a challenging job right now. I’m happy to help.”
Beth Breman is graduating high school this spring and is involved in the plans to continue the virtual tutor program next school year. “I definitely want to keep the program going and involve more student (volunteers),” she said.
Interested in becoming a virtual tutor? Contact Krista Hays, Community Engagement Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org