Carlos Pinto, a second grader at Hodge Elementary School in Azusa, grinned proudly as he clutched his shiny gold trophy and posed for pictures in front of a packed-house at the Azusa City Library on April 18. The eighth annual Year-End Celebration for Azusa Writes, Reads, and Counts honored the student, parent, and tutor participants in these community programs sponsored by Azusa Pacific University. Pinto earned the highest attendance award for taking part in Azusa Reads and Writes 60 times this school year. Equally excited, fellow Hodge second grader Angelica Morales received her award for more than 30 tutoring sessions with Azusa Counts.
“We had 260 students from 25 elementary schools in and around Azusa participate in Azusa Reads, Writes, and Counts this year,” said APU’s Stacey Kim, program manager. “Nearly 30 percent of these students came to more than 20 sessions.”
Kim cites the affirmation of parents and children as measures of true success. “Parents tell me they enjoy bringing their children because of the individualized attention they receive from our tutors. They report marked improvements in their kids’ reading and math abilities,” said Kim. “The children don’t see this as work. They are having fun. I often hear how much they love their tutors.”
The tutors, all APU students, spend 30 minutes with each K-5th grader, resulting in 1,884 hours of free tutoring this school year alone. Kimberly Rios ’13 grew up in Azusa and attended Dalton Elementary. Now an Azusa Scholar, graduating this May with her bachelor’s degree in communication studies, she enjoys giving back to her community by helping young residents hone their reading and math skills.
“As a tutor for the past three-and-a half-years, I have built relationships with many kids in the program,” Rios said. “I can relate to them and even had some of their same teachers. Sometimes children feel nervous speaking up in a class full of their peers and asking questions. This one-on-one setting makes them more comfortable. It is so rewarding to watch these students’ confidence levels increase as their abilities improve.”
Rios also tutors middle school students through Azusa Calculates. The program provides 24 Azusa 8th graders with algebra assistance, ensuring they are equipped for the challenges of high school math.
“The Azusa Writes, Reads, Calculates, and Counts programs provide our students with an incredible resource that can’t be found any place else,” said Jim Moore, AUSD assistant superintendent educational services. “The tutoring in English language arts and mathematics proves invaluable for their academic success, but perhaps more important is the relationship they build with their APU mentors. Through this connection students acquires a positive role model who provides support and encouragement and fosters determination. The Azusa Unified School District feels the same way regarding the partnership with APU. This collaboration is integral to providing our students with the resources they need to be successful students, citizens, and contributors to society.”
Azusa Reads, Writes, and Counts celebrate their 14th year of programming this fall. Tutoring begins again on Monday, September 9, at the Azusa City Library. Hours are Mondays, 3–7 p.m.; Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 3–6 p.m.; and Thursdays, 3–5 p.m. The library is located at 729 N. Dalton Ave. For more information visit www.apu.edu/caslr/federalworkstudy/.
Photos by Jorge Rosales