Morristown, N.J. (November 17, 2014) – Community outreach is a critical part of the College of Saint Elizabeth experience. In recent years, our students have worked with more than 90 non-profits, schools and social services organizations and raised more than $32,000 for charitable causes. These efforts continue with zest, whether that involves wielding hammers for Habitat for Humanity or participating in a relay to raise funds for cancer research.
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"Part of our College mission is outreach to the community," said Teri Corso, director of career services. "There is strong interest from our students to reach beyond campus and become involved in the communities around us." Most of these efforts are volunteer while some are funded to comply with use of federal work study funds.
One popular venue is tutoring through the Spring Street Community Development Corporation in Morristown. At Spring Street, CSE students work with fifth graders to improve their academic skills in literacy and math. Known as SOAR (student outreach and academic reinforcement), the program serves 32 fifth graders from four elementary schools in Morristown this semester. More than 20 CSE students provide the after school tutoring on Mondays and/or Thursdays depending on their own course load. "We are very blessed to have CSE participate in this program," said Executive Director Teresa Williams. "CSE has been with us from the start of the program four years ago."
The program is a resounding success for all involved. "The program is really rewarding," said Williams. "It provides one-on-one tutoring free of cost to the students at a critical time in their academic career." In addition to the tutoring, the program includes mentoring for the students through Big Brothers/Big Sisters as well as a weekly family activity and dinner. "It is important for our program's success to know that parents are involved and engaged with their children," she added.
CSE students gain as much as they give to the program. "I love the experience of the SOAR tutoring; the fifth graders love you being there and they look up to you," said CSE Freshman Nyrobi Knight of Brooklyn. "As an education major, it gives me perspective. Fifth graders love to learn new things and even inspire me." Fellow tutor and education/sociology major Laurie Ginn-Cuttino of Piscataway, N.J., agrees. "It helps me get into the field right away," she said, "I love helping others and teaching fifth graders is actually fun."
Tutoring is not limited to education majors. Zania Walker, allied health, '18, enjoys the experience. "I am doing SOAR because I love math and reading," she said. "I thought it would be a good idea to help kids with what I love and show them how much I enjoy doing it." She is a good influence on her fifth grader, Katia, who says, "I get a lot done here ... it's fun and Zania helps me."
Two CSE students help Williams coordinate the tutoring sessions – Mahbuba Neela, '17, English/education, coordinates on Mondays while Ashley Friedman, '17, psychology, coordinates on Thursdays.
The program has received community recognition. In May 2014, the Superintendent of Morris School District Thomas Ficarra wrote, "The SOAR program and its dedicated volunteers have made a significant difference in the academic, and emotional lives of children in the Morris District ... The volunteers are dedicated, responsible, and fully committed to the success of the program, their students and families. The County of Morris shared the sentiment in a similar letter from Mary Jo Buchanan, assistant county administrator. She wrote of SOAR, "This program, which provides a holistic approach to enhance the academic and social development of fifth graders through educational support, mentoring and enrichment opportunity is very much needed in the community ... This is an important program."