WHITTIER – Rio Hondo College has launched a free tutoring program for area public schools in its Adopt-A-School program, providing college students who are studying child development and related fields to assist K-12 students during and after school.

The program was piloted in spring at Scott Avenue Elementary in East Whittier City School District and is now offered there and at Dean Shively Middle School in Valle Lindo Elementary School District. It is expanding to encompass others among the Adopt-A-School partners.

“Our tutoring program builds on the relationships our College has built among our local schools over the last several years as part of our Adopt-A-School program,” Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss said.

The Adopt-A-School program started with providing information on College programs during Back-to-School Nights, offering campus tours and connecting students with cultural programs at Rio Hondo. Each year, the College hosts about 250 middle school students for Discover Rio, a day of exploration of higher education opportunities.

Now, Rio Hondo College is taking a leap forward with the tutoring program.

“This effort is all about making a difference in the lives of students in the community – whether that’s when they arrive at Rio Hondo College or ensuring that college is an option when the time comes,” Dreyfuss said. “Rio Hondo College considers it our mission to make higher education a reality for every member of our community.”

On a recent day, Rio Hondo College students Carolina Castillo, Samantha Martinez and Angela Yerena worked with Scott Avenue Elementary students on writing projects and math support.

An in-class session included helping fifth-graders brainstorm arguments for why the school would benefit from longer recess or a vending machine and what arguments they might hear against those plans.

Later, the three college students offered small group tutoring in math and one-on-one assistance in reading during a pull-out session. Some tutors stayed until after school to assist students with their homework.

Yerena, who is studying child development, began volunteering during the pilot effort in spring.

“I’m going to be a preschool teacher, so I thought it would give me experience before I went into the career. I wanted to see if teaching was what I really wanted,” she said. “Now, I know I can do it. I really enjoy working with the kids and seeing them learn.”

Tutors are paid through the Federal Work-Study program, which allows them to combine financial aid commitments with career training. The students may work up to 20 hours a week; in all, five students are assigned to Scott Avenue.

Teachers at Scott Avenue Elementary say the students are an invaluable resource, enabling them to offer direct aid to a greater number of students during class.

“My students always look forward to working with the tutors and they seem to connect well with them,” fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Lee said.

Next, the program is expected to expand to Dexter Middle School in Whittier City School District and Graves Middle School in South Whittier Elementary District.

Kranz Intermediate in Mountain View School District, Columbia School in El Monte City School District, the STEAM Academy at Burke and North Park Academy of the Arts in El Rancho Unified School District, New Temple Elementary in Valle Lindo School District and Los Nietos Middle School in Los Nietos Elementary School District are completing the on-boarding process.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide this service to our community,” Rio Hondo College Board of Trustees President Gary Mendez said. “It’s important for Rio Hondo to connect with students at every stage of their education, showing them they can achieve their dreams.”


RHC_TUTOR_1: Rio Hondo College students guide students at Scott Avenue Elementary School through an exercise in forming arguments for and against adding a campus vending machine and extending recess time.

RHC_TUTOR_2: Rio Hondo College students work with Scott Avenue Elementary School students on reading and math skills during a special tutoring session.