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CAT program expands its reach

| Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Known for connecting Saint Mary’s students and local Title I schools, the College Academy of Tutoring (CAT) program is changing lives and expanding locations this semester.

“This semester, we are starting our tutoring program at a new school, Harrison Primary, for fourth graders,” CAT student director Christin Kloski said. “… We have tutoring programs at Harrison and Navarre and teacher’s assistants at Harrison, Coquillard and Edison.”

She said the College will continue its pen pal program with Coquillard and added Harrison Primary students to the list of letter recipients.

Cat was formed in 2006 to provide support for “students in under-resourced schools in the South Bend area,” Kloski said. The program provides academic support, including teacher’s assistants, pen pals and after-school resources.

Kloski said she spearheaded the relationship between CAT and Harrison Primary this year by visiting the school.

“My first experience with the school was their back-to-school carnival-themed night,” she said. “I volunteered at the school to experience the new school’s environment.”

Kloski said her exploration yielded positive findings about the school’s environment.

“As the students and parents poured into the cafeteria, I was pleased to see how well the students, parents, staff and teachers communicated with one another,” Kloski said. “There was such a great feeling of community at the school.”

Kloski said student participants in CAT were able to experience that sense of inclusiveness first hand.

“Later on in the semester, we ended our pen pal program with a literacy night at the school,” she said. “The pen pals from Saint Mary’s and Harrison met one another and were able to get to know one another during the event. The literacy night was a great way for Saint Mary’s students to experience a local community setting.

“Harrison Primary was a place where Saint Mary’s students could see how well the South Bend community and the school community were able to work together.”

Sophomore and CAT scholar Jade Johnson said meeting her pen pal for the first time at the end of the semester dinner was her favorite part of the program.

“You get to know all about [your pen pal] throughout the semester,” Johnson said. “Without ever seeing their face, they become a part of your life. Putting a face to their name was an amazing experience I’ll never forget.”

The pen pal program is important because it helps enhance the reading and writing skills of the third and fourth grade students while giving them a consistent and positive role model, Johnson said.

“I encourage people to give it a try,” Johnson said. “Volunteering through the CAT program is a rewarding and exciting experience.”

Kloski said all students are welcome to join the CAT program — regardless of major.

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