Nearly every day after the final bell, students gather in the Central High library for an hour of tutoring.
Central’s program, like so many others across Knox County Schools, offers free tutoring in math, science, and English four days a week.
It’s in these sessions that math teacher and program coordinator Andrew Turner sees an impact on students and teachers.
“We talk about resilience and finishing strong a lot at Central,” Turner said. “I really feel like the tutoring program assists the idea that it’s never over. You may have started poorly or gotten behind here or there, but we’re going to help you and support you in catching up.”
Over the years, Turner has tracked student participation in the program and found that it has a deep influence on graduation rates. He said one year 20% of graduates who were on the line of eligibility were able to finish high school because of the extra support they received in tutoring.
The teachers leading the afterschool sessions also learn and benefit in their own way.
In a room full of students all needing assistance in different subjects, teachers oftentimes step in to help with courses they don’t teach. An algebra teacher might help with biology, or a literature teacher could assist with world geography. “It’s fun to watch teachers push themselves professionally and stay fresh on content,” Turner said. He added, “The hearts of these teachers are so big. Getting paid is nice, but they would do it for free. They really do care about the kids.”