W.E. Move! Academic Challenges for Individual Students

W.E. Move! Tutoring Group, Inc. differs from other organizations offering tutoring to children. For one thing, W.E. Move! offers high-level tutoring from students with a background in education. While it’s nice to have local volunteers tutor children, it makes good sense to pair kids with tutors on the road to a professional career in education. Such tutors have more invested in the process, and it shows.

Beyond the caliber and focus of the tutors it chooses, W.E. Move! shows insight in concluding that children learn best when learning is geared to them as individuals. It’s more work that way, but the tutors, still learning their field, learn to really see the kids and be flexible enough to adapt lessons to each child for maximum impact.

Developing a new method that works is no small thing. It’s what we look for in our small grant applicants. Creative ideas in education that didn’t remain ideas, but became a reality.

We put some questions to W.E. Move! CEO/Director Marie Williams to learn more about this unique and uniquely interesting educational program:

Kars4Kids: What is the backstory of W.E. Move!—why was it founded?

Marie Williams: Our backstory begins with one frustrated mom trying to replace the best tutor ever for her eight-year-old son. That mom was me. I’m still not sure how I couldn’t find one perfect tutor, but, in my frustration, I began Statesboro’s first summer tutoring camp with fourteen tutors serving fifteen students—weekly field trips included. It happened with unexpected support from Dr. Archie Simpson, Dr. Beth Joyner, Attorney Minkah Merritt, Georgia Power, Bulloch Pediatrics, Adel Car Company and other individuals and local businesses.

The goal was to create a space for elementary school students to enjoy their summer, have new experiences, and, ultimately, get the boost they needed to be prepared for the upcoming school year. I wanted to combat “summer loss,” give those who were “on track” a boost and help those who were “behind” catch up as much as possible in the few weeks of summer vacation.

And you know what? We did. My son, who was in danger of being retained in the third grade, made enough noticeable progress for both principals and teachers to agree that retention was no longer the best option for him. Parents and grandparents were pleased to the point of urging us to continue the service throughout the school year, and that was how W.E. MOVE! Tutoring Camp & Summer Fun became W.E. MOVE! Tutoring Group.

we move student learns how to tell time
Learning to tell time with a W.E. Move tutor

Kars4Kids: How old is your son today, and how is he doing with his studies or career? What are his aspirations?

Marie Williams: He is 14 years old and will be entering 9th grade. He still needs that one-on-one tutoring in the area of math, and we are grateful W.E. MOVE! Is still viable and able to assist him in that area. He loves reading and writes stories with his friends during the school year. He has so many aspirations right now! He is currently focused on creating art pieces on canvas, honing his cooking skills – he’s always wanted to become a chef – and turning his stories into virtual books online.

smiling tutor with sweet faced african american boy w.e. move tutoring

Kars4Kids: How did you come up with the idea of using Georgia Southern students as tutors? How does it work? Do the students get credit for working with W.E. Move students?

Marie Williams: I’ve worked for the university since I was a student myself over 17 years ago. In the beginning I realized that our city was sitting on a gold mind of volunteerism. I thought, what better way for the university to connect with the community than to have our Georgia Southern Eagles cultivate “baby eagles.” I sent ads and posters into every college and the response was phenomenal. Now we not only have volunteers but have opened the door to work study opportunities and internships.

girls at we move

Kars4Kids: Can you give us an overview of your After School Support Spring Session? What is the rational for using two tutors per student? How long are the tutoring sessions?

Marie Williams: When our students arrive, they are immediately given an afterschool snack. No one learns best when they’re hungry, so we remedy that from the start. The student’s tutor is waiting to meet with them and go over any homework or study material they may have. If the student does not have homework, they usually have a class newsletter. The tutor will go over the information the student is currently learning for the week in class. The next period is where the fun begins. Tutors provide 3-4 activities per session that target the student’s area of academic challenge while engaging them with activities that are fun and lean towards things they are interested in. It is the tutor’s job to find out how their student learns best and apply that learning style to each session. Two tutors are assigned to each student for the duration of the semester to ensure the student receives consistent attention with variety in the teaching style. We’ve found that having 2 tutors to a student helps us to connect with that student and their interests on multiple levels. Tutoring sessions for elementary students are from 2:30 – 5:30 and 3:30 – 5:30 for middle school students.

tutor and student read book

Kars4Kids: You have a “Tutoring Camp and Summer Fun” program. What can you tell us about this program and its purpose? Is it difficult to get the balance right between tutoring and fun?

Marie Williams: The Tutoring Campus was our original program. Our main goal was learning acceleration and to combat summer learning loss. We work to ensure students can handle grade level concepts and to make sure those students who are on grade level retain the information learned during the previous school year. Balancing fun is easy for us! We partner with student organizations, professors, community partners to provide STEM, Art, and fitness activities onsite and offsite. We visit the local library for the amazing events and opportunities offered there, and we take weekly academic field trips to museums, aquariums, and historic places of awe and learning.

Kars4Kids: What ages are your young participants and how did you decide what ages and grades to focus on? How do you determine a student’s eligibility for W.E. Move?

Marie Williams: We began with elementary school students in the beginning as this was the level our son was in at the time. We began to expand one grade at a time until we now cover middle school students and PreK. We believe the earlier we can start supporting students the more apt they are to be successful in school. At this point all students are eligible to participate.

we move number game with student tutor

Kars4Kids: How do you judge the impact of your tutoring sessions?

Marie Williams: We keep a close watch on our student’s weekly grades, progress reports and confidence, and we survey their parents.

we move middle school students practice grammar and writing

Kars4Kids: The tutoring sessions you offer are tailored to the individual students. What does this mean, exactly? How would the approach differ from student to student, other than gearing the tutoring sessions according to the appropriate level of difficulty for each student?

Marie Williams: Here are two examples that I love. A few years back we had a young student who loved to paint. He needed assistance in the areas of reading, specifically phonics, and in math. His tutors made an effort to incorporate painting into his work daily. From dot paint pens to finger paint and paint brushes they took the work “off the worksheet” and put it into a medium he could enjoy. During the fall of 2022 I had a young man who struggled to focus and to learn sight words. Just making word cards was not nearly enough. We took the cards, attached them to bowling pins and let him bowl! Every word he knocked over he had to say. When he came to a challenging word, we would have him write that word on a handheld white board and repeat it 5 times. This helped him retain the words and he enjoyed doing it which greatly increased his willingness to practice. The tailoring goes on and on. If a child likes hot wheels, we incorporate hot wheels. If it’s playdough, then we make sure we have playdough on standby!

playdough we move tutoring

Kars4Kids: Is parental involvement a part of what you do?

Marie Williams: Most parents are at some level of frustration with their young scholar by the time they find out about our service. We are here for parental support and partnership. We want to alleviate the frustration and explain during the parent interview that we will work with them to map out a plan that works for their student.

Kars4Kids: What’s next for W.E. Move!?

Marie Williams: A full time staff and a 15-passenger van are the 2 major pieces missing in our puzzle! W.E. MOVE! Has been blessed to do amazing work with a staff that volunteers hours around and after their regular day jobs. The program could grow immensely with a staff that is able to dedicate their daily schedule to this cause. With the acquisition of a 15-passenger van W.E. MOVE! will be able to register students who do not have transportation from their schools to our site.

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