News - Math Wizards: GC Students Tutor East St. Louis Students

Math Wizards: GC Students Tutor East St. Louis Students

Math Wizards: GC Students Tutor East St. Louis Students

Article by Jamie Forsythe for the  Belleville News-Democrat

Originally published in the Belleville News-Democrat on November 9, 2014

EAST ST LOUIS — Greenville College student Nate Wieland didn’t waste any time getting to work helping third-graders Antwan Strong and Demorion Bush with their math worksheet in Barbara Outten’s class at Officer Elementary School in East St. Louis.

Wieland, of Mascoutah, encouraged Antwan and Demorion as they worked on four-digit addition problems.

“I think you’re smart,” he told Antwan. “You are doing good on these.”

Wieland told Demorion “you did that great, man. You are already doing better than when I saw you last week.”

Wieland and 14 other students from Greenville College tutor kindergarten through 12th grade students at three East St. Louis schools — Officer, Katie Harper Wright Elementary and East St. Louis Senior High —for an hour once a week on Tuesday afternoons.

The group drives the 50 miles to East St. Louis together in a 15-passenger van.

Teresa Holden, the director of Greenville’s freshmen seminar class, leads the tutoring initiative. The class is an academic course, but it also has a service component, which is where the tutoring comes in.

Holden is familiar with working with East St. Louis District 189. She has been doing outreach with the schools the last decade.

The tutoring is an expansion of what Greenville College has already been doing, Holden said. The tutoring program is being piloted this year.

“We are getting really good feedback from the students and the schools,” Holden said. “We would certainly like to expand it.”

Holden hopes the tutoring not only benefits the East St. Louis students but the Greenville College students as well.

“You start interacting with young people and children over there, and you fall completely in love,” she said. “We learn extremely important things from that community, and we are privileged to serve there.”

Tina Frye, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at the elementary level for District 189, said the district is excited to continue its long-standing partnership with the students and faculty of Greenville College.

“It’s a mutual benefit for the district and Greenville,” Frye said. “We are assisting the college students in obtaining valuable teaching experience and they, in turn, are helping our students receive additional instruction in key subject areas.”

In Outten’s class last week, Greenville freshmen Erin Lobner, of Wisconsin, praised the work of third-grader Jayda Seawood. “Look at how fast you got through that,” Lobner said. “Cool.”

Having additional adults in her classroom is a “big help” for her students, Outten said. “I love it,” she said. “I think all the universities in the area should come and help us.”

GC student Lindsey WilsonGreenville freshmen Lindsey Wilson, of St. Louis, was helping third-grader Kamaya Wilson with her math problems. “You can use your fingers if you need to,” Wilson told her.

In addition to the 10 math problems on the work sheet, there were two word problems as well.

“I need help,” Demorion told Wieland when he got to the word problems.

“Let’s figure this out,” Wieland said with enthusiasm. “You know what helps me is to draw lines” between the numbers when doing four-digit addition.

“You know it,” Wieland said as he helped Demorion work through the problems. “I’m so glad you got this done.”

Wieland didn’t stop helping when the math worksheet was finished. Demorion grabbed a book about mummies, and Wieland helped him read some of the harder words like Egypt.

“You just have to sound out each letter,” Wieland said.

Wieland, Wilson and Lobner hope to work in classrooms one day as teachers. Both Wilson and Lobner are majoring in special education, and Wieland is majoring in elementary education with a minor in youth ministry.

Wieland, 18, was inspired to pursue a career in education by his tennis coach at Mascoutah High School — Sam Graf.

“He showed me when you make a positive change in people’s lives it really impacts people and that’s something I wanted to do,” Wieland said.

Wieland said he’s fortunate to already be impacting the lives of students in East St. Louis.

“I really enjoy it,” he said of the tutoring. “I’m making a positive change in these kids’ lives. Being able to do that makes me pretty happy.”

Learn more about our education degrees on our School of Education department page.

Questions about the article? Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at or 618.239.2562. View her on Twitter: @BND_JForsythe.

Photos by Derik Holtmann of the Belleville News-Democrat.

Read the original article on the Belleville News-Democrat website.

This story was published on November 10, 2014

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