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Tutoring makes a world of difference

Tutoring02Understanding reading, writing and arithmetic isn’t easy for every student, but tutoring can make all the difference in school and beyond.

For proof of its power, tutoring program manager Santarvis Brown wants to measure that difference with tangible data.

A former Miami-Dade county administrator with 11 years of experience, Brown is charged with managing six companies contracted with the Tribe that provide tutoring services to about 400 students Tribalwide.

“The goal is to provide quality supplemental education services to Tribal members,” said Brown, who is also acting director of the Education Department. “I’m pushing for measurable accountability and data to show students’ learning gains.”

To collect that data, pre- and post-tutoring testing will be conducted by all tutors so each student’s progress can be tracked through the school year. Because consistency is crucial to success, students will have the same tutors every session.

Brown will meet with the tutoring companies monthly and rate the tutors on a scorecard to ensure more accountability. He also plans to survey parents to keep them involved in the process.

“It will allow us to keep the reins on the program and measure quality assurance,” he said.

Recently in Hollywood, students met with tutors for individual lessons and homework assistance.

“I like coming here because sometimes I can’t understand everything and I’m struggling,” said Aiyana Cartwright, 8, a third-grader at Driftwood Elementary in Hollywood. “It helps me because I have a person sitting right here to help me.”

Vennabella Sisto, 10, comes for homework help every day.

“My spelling grades have gone up since I started here,” said Sisto, a Hollywood Christian School fifth-grader. “I haven’t missed a day.”

The busiest time in the tutoring rooms is usually after 4 p.m. when students get back to the reservation from schools around the county. Snacks and knowledge are served together, a winning combination for absorbing information.

Tutoring is available from 2:30 to 6 p.m. at the following locations: Big Cypress: Learning Resource Center; Brighton: Tutoring trailer; Hollywood: Education Department and Tutoring trailer; Immokalee: Library; Naples: Library; Tampa: Field Office; and Trail: Tutoring trailer.

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