When a student arrives early to school, it’s usually to catch up with friends or to finish up a last minute project. However, some Shadow Ridge Middle School students arrive early to campus for a completely different reason.
Every Thursday and Friday, students from Shadow Ridge grab their bags and rush out the door to greet and tutor students at Bluebonnet Elementary.
Shadow Ridge eighth-grader and tutor Britton Young is also a former Bluebonnet student.
“It is fun coming back to my elementary school and helping students,” Young said. “I really like to tutor in math because it is one of my favorite subjects. When a student gets what we have been studying, it feels great. We are both excited.”
The tutoring program is a partnership between the two schools to give middle school students an opportunity to serve their community and provide additional academic support to the neighboring elementary school students.
Bluebonnet Elementary teacher Donna Cogbill believes the campuses locations allowed students to be able to work together and not interfere with school start times.
“We really felt like we should take advantage of these two campuses being right next to each other,” Cogbill said. “The tutoring program seemed like a great opportunity to forge an even stronger bond for our students and the Flower Mound community.”
Bluebonnet second-grader Ruth Millner looks forward to mornings with her tutor.
“I like studying new things with her,” Millner said. “She does activities with us that are a lot of fun. She’s made me not afraid to speak up and ask questions.”
Shadow Ridge teacher Brooke Munro said the program has picked up momentum as more students talk about the experience.
“My students are loving it,” Munro said. “It is fun to hear them share when they return to campus. They are really stepping into a possible mentor role for these students and it is a huge commitment to be there early. They are there tutoring before our school day even begins.”
Although Bluebonnet students are the ones receiving guidance, Shadow Ridge eighth-grader Micah Maguire said she has learned from the program, as well.
Cogbill shared that dispelling any possible uneasiness about middle school is one added benefit she did not anticipate from the program.“I really enjoy going because I like to see the kids and what they are learning. I learn myself from their perspectives on the topic and through our discussions. I also enjoy being able to answer questions about middle school for them. Hopefully, it will help it be less intimidating.”
Bluebonnet fifth-grade student Annika Standiford will be attending Shadow Ridge next year.
“Since my tutor has been in middle school for three years, I have asked him a lot of questions,” Standiford said. “I asked him which teachers he liked best in sixth grade and how hard the homework was. He has made me feel more comfortable. I am still nervous, but mostly just excited now.”
Munro believes it also helps her students gain perspective on the importance and joy of helping others.
“I hope students learn how important it is to help and give of your own time,” Munro said. “These students will be going on to high school and will be the youngest again, much like their pupils at Bluebonnet. I hope they look at this experience and use it to be a positive role in their future as well. It is a good reminder for them that we can learn from others at any age.”
Shadow Ridge students can receive community service hours for their time as a tutor. However, many of the students see it as an added bonus.
“I have had numerous students tell me that after they conclude their hours, they plan to continue,” Cogbill said. “I think it speaks to the heart and character of our students and the real reason they are participating. I could not be more proud of our students in LISD.”