During a year that caused a major disruption in the education system, college students in Lake Havasu City came together to help local students who were falling behind in their studies.

Since Jan. 25, ASU Havasu students have been offering free tutoring three times a week at the Church of Nazarene. In the three months that the program has been running, 178 students across nine different grades have come in for the one-on-one help.

The idea for the program first came about in the fall when one of Sharon Harvey’s ASU students suggested that, in the age of covid, a tutoring program in Havasu might be helpful — not just for students, but also their parents.

Harvey agreed and went to work trying to find a space that the program could use. She found a spot one night after talking with her fellow choir member and Lake Havasu High School teacher Shawnn Welde.

“We were at worship practice one night and we were trying to think of something that the church could do as community outreach,” Welde said. “At first we were talking about food banks and different things… I teach over at the high school and I said that there is a real need for tutoring right now.”

Seeing the overlap in their thoughts, Harvey and Welde decided to work together on the tutoring program and approached the Church of Nazarene about using their space.

“They were all for it,” Harvey said about the church’s response. “There was no reservation from them.”

Now with a space and the tutors, there was just one more hurdle the program needed to clear before opening for business.

“The hardest part of this whole process was just getting it started,” Harvey said. “We wanted to start in the fall, but working with minors, we had to go through the proper training and background checks.”

Finally, with all the necessary prep work done, the tutoring program was ready to go, and according to Harvey, the responses from the community and the students have been positive.

“I have had both parents and students stop by my desk to tell me that their grades have improved since they started attending,” Harvey said. “I even had one mom come up to me in tears because of how helpful one of our tutors was for her son with special needs.”

It is not just the students who are being tutored benefiting. ASU students can apply to be interns in the tutoring program and can receive up to three college credits for the time they put in.

Of course, the students can also volunteer to be tutors just for the joy of helping students, like Phoebe Kyle.

“It has been really nice,” Kyle said. “I work at WAVE culinary and so I already get to work with kids, but getting to do biology with them, which is my major, is especially fun because I don’t get to typically work with anyone on that.”

The program is wrapping for this school year, but both Harvey and Welde are already thinking about how they want to expand the program next year.

“We were hoping to get some high school students who could come in and tutor,” Welde said. “But our year was so weird and most of the clubs were not fully meeting, so we hope to get clubs like Key Club and Interact involved next year.”

Along with high school tutors, Harvey would also like to get some community members who might be former teachers involved, too.

Currently, there is no solid start date for the tutoring program in the fall — a new batch of tutors means that more background checks and training have to be complete — but Harvey, Welde and the college students are excited to see how their program grows.

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