After reading that some elementary school students were falling behind academically when COVID-19 required the physical closure of their school campuses, University of New Orleans education professor Brian Beabout decided to integrate a service learning component into one of his summer graduate-level courses this year: virtual tutoring.
“My students are all certified teachers, so this uses their background to address a community need for struggling students whose learning was disrupted by the school closures this spring,” said Beabout, associate professor of educational leadership and graduate coordinator at UNO.
Beabout feels it is a win-win for his graduate students who aspire to be school administrators and will be expected to establish community partnerships. His students are enrolled in the master’s degree program in educational administration and are training to become certified school principals, he said.
The course, School Community Relations, is designed to assist future K-12 administrators in understanding and implementing effective K-12 school-parent-community related programs, Beabout said.
“In this class, we learn about building community partnerships, and students are doing some service learning that both benefits the students in their groups, illustrates some of the challenges of online teaching, and gets them to understand what it takes to build a two-way partnership with an outside organization,” he said.
Beabout called on David LaViscount, principal of Audubon Gentilly, who is a UNO alumnus, to share his idea.
“Given the disruptions this spring, and the inequities that have been reported in online learning offerings, I wanted to support some students 1:1 who might be getting behind after being out of school so long,” Beabout said.
LaViscount, along with the school’s director of student support, Annie Preziozi, identified the Audubon students that Beabout’s 13 graduate students would be tutoring for four hours during July.
“Nothing earth shattering, but it may be significant for the 13 kids we tutor,” Beabout said.
As part of the course, Beabout plans to have his students meet with LaViscount and Audubon Gentilly parents to discuss best practices for establishing outside partnerships that are most beneficial to the school and its students.
“I teach this class each summer so I would like to keep this relationship going in summer 2021,” Beabout said.