Community Unites to Provide Virtual Tutoring

Lion Catchers Group Brings Together Kids and Tutors in Washington Township

“When spiders unite, they can tie down a lion.” This Ethiopian proverb inspired the name “Lion Catchers” for a group of Washington Township volunteers back in 2014 who sought to unite community groups in providing multi-faceted support for our schools.  The Lion Catchers have again woven a web of cooperation by establishing a virtual tutoring program to help Washington Township elementary students during the pandemic.  

“Tutoring has been a foundational effort of Lion Catchers, and we knew when the pandemic started, we needed to quickly adapt,” said Tom Lange, organization founder and Board President, Crooked Creek Community Development Corporation.  “We scrambled to establish virtual tutors and within a month had 25 volunteers helping 35 kids via remote interaction.” 

In the spirit of continuous improvement, over the summer six of these volunteers documented best practices and worked with Washington Township administrators to improve the process for the fall semester. The effort is integrated with elementary school classrooms, with tutors joining in via Zoom to observe an elementary class in progress to ensure the tutor is in step with the subject matter being taught. Reading and math are the focus areas for assistance as critical areas to support during these challenging times of remote learning. 

“We are so thankful for the partnerships we have formed with our virtual tutors and students. It is great that our families have another resource to turn to when needing additional guidance on assignments,” said Kim Piper, Director of Elementary Education. “Many of these tutors become valuable mentors to our students and go above and beyond as they meet with their students on a weekly basis and provide other resources as well. Tom Lange and his team have definitely helped us as we navigate through the virtual world of 2020.”

With 40 tutors already on board, having completed a criminal background check and technology training on Zoom provided by St Luke’s United Methodist Church, the effort is gaining steam.  Volunteers sign up via Sign Up Genius as to the times they are available to observe a classroom and help with breakout sessions, as well as times when they are available for 1-1 tutoring after school.  Teachers contact the parents for permission for a tutor to work with their child, and matches are made. 

Tutors come from a variety of backgrounds, including 20 nursing students from IUPUI this semester as well as retired community members who have connected via their faith-based organization. The current goal is to provide tutoring for 150 students, so more volunteers are needed. 

 “You don’t have to affiliated with group to help us in this effort,” Lange says.  “A willing spirit to help a child advance their learning is the foundational skill needed to help lift up our community’s students in this time of great need.” 

Committing to two hours per week is requested to help provide continuity for students. To learn more and sign up, click here.  Volunteers will be contacted for an orientation session once their background check is complete. 

You can be part of the “spider web” of engaged people helping students of today be ready for their academic path of tomorrow. 

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