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Students stay on track with tutoring

For some students, schoolwork comes easily. For others, there is tutoring.

To meet the needs of students who need help or a gentle nudge with their studies, the Tribe offers individual tutoring in Hollywood, Brighton, Big Cypress, Immokalee, Naples and Trail. Students from kindergarten through college qualify for five hours per week of free tutoring. Last year, 480 students took advantage of this benefit. The collective grade point average for these students is 3.3, a solid “B” average.

“Some of these students attend the most rigorous academic schools,” said Julissa Collazo, tutor coordinator. “Parents can’t always help with homework, and you don’t want the kids to go to class unprepared. Since the Tribe gives scholarships to these schools, we have to step it up with tutoring.”

For students who didn’t graduate high school, tutors can help prepare them to take the general equivalency diploma test. The ages of the majority of the GED tutoring students range from 22 to 28, but anyone can take advantage of the service. Since 2010, 77 students from the tutoring program have successfully passed the GED test.

“If you haven’t gone to school in a while, you don’t know where you are academically,” said Marie Dufour-Bonville, adult vocational administrator. “We tell them we aren’t here to recreate the high school experience; we are here to help them pass the test.”

Each of the program’s 95 tutors has a bachelor’s degree and/or a teaching certificate and has passed a thorough background check. In addition to their tutoring duties, many often wind up mentoring the students. Tutors know the curriculum and teaching schedules at each school so the students keep up in class. They are also an additional caring adult in the kids’ lives.

Some students continue going to tutoring for years whether or not they still require the extra help. Eric Jumper, who started tutoring in third grade, is now in seventh grade at Driftwood Middle School, and with a 3.0 GPA, he may not need tutoring any more.

“He comes to tutoring all the time and has become a leader,” Collazo said. “It’s been a joy to see someone we helped become independent and a positive role model for other kids.”

The tutoring program started six years ago and has flourished. On one recent day after school, tutors and students kept busy with a variety of subjects in the filled-to-capacity tutoring trailer in Hollywood. In one room alone, subjects covered included reading comprehension, mathematics, computer skills, spelling and vocabulary.

“I’ve only been coming here for a week, but it’s been good,” said Phyllis Osceola, 11, a sixth-grader at American Heritage School. “It helps me with my homework and will help with projects, too.”
Some students are veterans of the program.

“I started in second grade,” said Elizabeth Frank, 12, a seventh-grader at the University School of Nova Southeastern University. “I like coming; it helps me study better.”

Even seniors find value in tutoring. Jonathan Frank, who has been going to tutoring since 10th grade, credits tutor Dalia Marvin for helping keep him at grade level and confident.

“I plan to go to community college first and then transfer into a university to get a degree in business administration,” said Frank, 17, a senior at Hollywood Hills High School. “Miss Dalia has been most helpful in math.”

Tutoring is available from 2:30-6 p.m. at the following locations:

Hollywood: 3100 N. 63rd Ave., 3rd floor; Brighton: 575 East Village St., Okeechobee; Big Cypress: 30290 Josie Billie Highway, Clewiston; Immokalee: 295 Stockade Rd.; Naples: 5282 Golden Gate Parkway, Suite A; Trail: 57655 West Tamiami Trail, Okechobee.

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at

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