Most school children in Kentucky are learning via virtual instruction this school year. Teachers and educators are doing their best, but virtual instruction isn’t the same as in-person instruction where the teacher can just walk over to a student’s desk and help them with a problem.
The sad reality is that by the time the school year ends in May or June, most students are probably going to be behind academically from where they should be, and they will have a lot of catching up to do this fall.
Our teachers will have their hands full this fall trying to catch them up, which will be an uphill battle for most of the 2021-2022 school year.
I think there is a way to aid our overworked teachers and provide additional instructors for particularly our elementary school students this fall, which could be done for little to no costs to school districts.
We are blessed to have two private colleges in the Tri-County area, the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg and Union College in Barbourville, which both have quality programs that produce several promising young educators each year.
While college juniors and seniors, who are majoring in education, may not yet be qualified to teach class all day, every day, these are still intelligent young adults, who most certainly could aid younger school students in their learning. Put another way, even if they might not be ready to teach high school calculus, they can probably help a second grader with math.
Why not create a volunteer program where these education majors have the opportunity to come into our schools to help tutor young students, either individually or in small groups.
Even if they could come in two days a week and work with students for a couple of hours, that would add up. This is especially true if multiple education majors are able to help out.
Why would college students want to volunteer like this? First off, most are required to do community service as part of graduation requirements and I don’t think it would take a lot of arm twisting, if any, to convince college administrators that this is a worthy community service project.
It would also give education majors some real, practical hands on experience. If the education majors were smart, they would view this as an extended job interview and a chance to show off their skills.
The school districts could keep track of the volunteer hours and present their volunteer educators with certificates indicating the number of hours that they volunteered.
When our college students become college graduates, then they could submit copies of these certificates indicating volunteer hours along with their job applications to school districts where they are trying to land jobs, which I suspect would be viewed pretty favorably by would be employers.
Of course, the school districts would need policies in place for such a program, background checks would have to be done, etc., which would take a few months to get into place.
This is part of the reason why I am writing about this idea now.
Now to touch on a few other topics before I conclude this column.
• With the obvious exception of the anti-vaccination folks out there, I think it is fair to say that COVID-19 vaccinations are going slower than most people would like. A few weeks ago, the Whitley County Health Department had a waiting list of more than 1,800 people, who had signed up to get it.
Many people are understandably frustrated with the delay as they should be.
I think some perspective is in order though. We should all remember that there are only two vaccines currently approved for use in the United States, which every city, county, and state is wanting in addition to most foreign countries.
Simply put, it is going to take a while for everybody to get a vaccination that wants one. My point is that as hard as it might be, all of us are just going to have to be patient in regards to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
• My congratulations goes out to Whitley County Superintendent John Siler, who recently received a four-year contract extension from the Whitley County Board of Education. John has done a good job since he became superintendent and is deserving of the contract extension.
• At some point I am going to have to get down to Whitley County High School to meet the boys basketball coach, who, coincidentally, is also named Mark White. To the coach, I would say good luck and point out that the name Mark White is well established and generally well respected in Whitley County so don’t make a mess of things…LOL.