WCC Academic Skills Center Celebrates Its Tutors & Accreditation

WCC Academic Skills Center Celebrates Its Tutors & Accreditation

Wayne Community College has had more reasons than ever to celebrate National Tutoring Week (Oct. 5-9) this year.

Not only has the college’s tutoring hub, the Academic Skills Center, successfully mastered COVID-19-safe assistance, but it has earned accreditation in the midst of the pandemic.

The WCC Academic Skills Center is now a National Tutoring Association-certified program. The program was assessed on its leadership plan, tutor training process including the requirement to have an NTA-certified trainer on staff, and a self-evaluation and program outcomes plan. The accreditation lasts for three years.

Peer Tutor Matthew Burgess (left) works with fellow student Tawanda Cobb on chemistry principles in the Wayne Community College Academic Skills Center. “I need much help,” Cobb said. “Matthew breaks it down into simpler terms for me to understand.” Burgess’ passion is chemistry and he plans to pursue further education and a career in it.

Dr. Brandy Daingerfield, the center’s director, said that it was “a rigorous process” that also scrutinized the program’s COVID-19 response. She had to have a telephone discussion with the NTA executive director to address the center’s COVID-19 reaction and she believes the administrator was impressed.

“We set the bar for other colleges because we didn’t stop,” Daingerfield said.

“We immediately transitioned from in-person to virtual tutoring” when the rest of the college’s operations moved online last spring. “It says a lot about the quality of the tutors. I could not have hand picked a better team. I did the training one day and they started virtual the next.”

The center continued operating remotely through the summer term. This fall, tutoring is being offered in a hybrid environment, with limited in-person appointments available. Accessing online assistance is as easy as logging in and clicking on a few links.

“Students are still getting face-to-face assistance, even though it may be through a computer monitor,” Daingerfield said.

The move to working from home in the spring allowed Daingerfield, who had just started working at WCC, the opportunity to dive into the accreditation process sooner than she had planned.

“One of the first goals when I was hired in January was to get the program accredited but I didn’t want to disrupt the flow. With remote working, I started it and had several months of putting together the notebook” of required materials, she said.

For proof that tutoring programs meet and maintain standards of quality, “there is no federal regulation, just this association,” Daingerfield said. “This shows we are at the top of this iceberg.”

Another of her goals is “to have peer tutors (students who tutor other students) trained to at least basic level, professional tutors trained to at least intermediate level, and coordinators I encourage to go to the top,” Daingerfield said.

“They know how to tutor, but I want to add to their knowledge base, give them more strategies, and help them update processes,” she said. “It would be adding a layer on this already phenomenal process.”

Daingerfield is certified by NTA to train tutors, coaches, and mentors. “Training insures that they are practicing at their level of ethics and competence,” she said.

Daniel Bryson, a part-time professional tutor in Wayne Community College’s Academic Skills Center, demonstrates an economic equation during a virtual tutoring session. Bryson started as a peer tutor in 2017 and cultivated tutoring specialties in economics and math as well as helping students develop study habits. He recently graduated from WCC with an associate in science degree and will continue his education with an eye toward teaching economics.

Additionally, certification is a valuable credential for an individual tutor, she explained, and it will be recognized by other tutoring departments at which peer tutors might wish to work.

Through NTA, individual certifications are available for basic level tutor, academic coach, intermediate level tutor, advanced level coach, and master level tutor.

This week, Daingerfield is rewarding the center’s tutors with goodies, including bags and thermal cups custom printed with “Tutors Can Do Virtually Anything” and the center’s name.

She is also encouraging tutees to leave notes with comments and compliments about their tutors on a bulletin board in the center and on social media, which puts the contributors into a drawing for a special prize.

“This is sort of a spirit week for tutoring,” she said. “We are working to overcome the stigma of ‘just a tutor.’”

Tutors, she explained, build a bridge between instruction and application, make personal connections and support students, and take some of the load off of instructors.

Daingerfield’s dedication to tutoring is complete. “I was meant to be a tutor. This is where I found my passion,” she said.