Principal Jim Stang, of Holdingford Elementary, has had the same two tutors for the past four school years. As both the principal and internal coach for Reading Corps, Stang has a unique perspective on what it takes to recruit and retain tutors. Although he’ll insist that his success boils down to having two incredible tutors — this spring he’ll begin to focus on recruiting their replacements. He was gracious enough to chat with us to share his thoughts on tutor retention and recruitment.
Find the right fit. As a small town (population 717) about 30 minutes from the nearest university, Stang says parents with children in the district are his best prospects. “They want to be in our building and on the same schedule as their kids,” he says. Stang is also trying to be more intentional about connecting with recent high school grads. “Rather than driving 40 minutes to work somewhere else, why not save that time and gas money to do some good here at home?” He notes that with the increased stipend for 2020-21 and the added perk of an education award, it’s a competitive option for some of Holdingford’s recent graduates.
Put everyone on the same team. As both principal and internal coach, Stang knows that everyone needs to understand they are part of the same team. He summarizes the mindset by saying, “We share these students and are focused on doing what is best for them.” At Holdingford Elementary that means tutors are invited to staff meetings, regularly share data with classroom teachers and celebrate successes with the entire school.
Make space. “Space is limited in our buildings, and we’ve all seen things like speech clinicians sitting outside a classroom working on IEP goals,” Stang notes. Having a dedicated space for tutors to work with students on interventions not only helps them feel valued but makes them more effective. This year Stang decided they had exhausted all other options and the best solution was to give up his office. He says he’s pleased with how it’s working out but jokes that the elementary secretary is ready to have him back in his office and out of her hair!
Put it front and center. “We make sure Reading Corps is in our school newsletter and on social media, but we also include them in conferences, parent nights and other events like Grandparents Day,” Stang says. “Grandparents Day brings 800 people to our building – so it’s a great opportunity to get in front of people.”
Celebrate Success. “Our tutors do a great job of celebrating their students and making a big deal of it when students graduate the program,” Stang shares. Although his schedule doesn’t often allow him to attend, he does his part by sending home a handwritten postcard with a balloon or small treat.
After four years together, Stang says the thought of saying goodbye to his tutors this June is heartbreaking. Although it’s going to be tough moving on, there is a silver lining. Stang knows he’s got a great pipeline should other roles become available in the district. “When we are hiring, former tutors get my strongest endorsement!”
Need More Ideas? Check out these quick and easy tutor retention tips:
- Tell your tutor you’d love to have them come back for another year of service!
- Drop a thank you card in their mailbox letting them know what an impact they are making.
- Celebrate AmeriCorps Week (March 8-14, 2020). Whether a shout out in daily announcements, blurb in the school newsletter, a breakfast treat left at their desk or photo submitted to your local paper, let them know you value their service!
- Ask students to draw a picture or write a thank you note.
- Create a bulletin board celebrating Reading Corps/Math Corps and all the students who have improved their skills.