Two Columbia tutoring programs see growth in services

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 | 1:25 p.m. CST; updated 9:23 a.m. CST, Wednesday, December 16, 2009

COLUMBIA — MU junior Elliot Ewert has been involved with Jumpstart, a Columbia tutoring program, for 1½ years, and enjoyed the program so much he decided to change his major from journalism to early childhood education.

“(The program) is very attentive to the needs of children and really integrates well with the public school curriculum and classroom,” he  said.

For More Information

For more information about Jumpstart, go to or call Chrissie Bennett, site manager for the Columbia branch, at (573) 882-8942.

For more information about A Way With Words and Numbers, go to or call Director Rob McDaniels at (573) 882-9370.

Ewert's time is among the 38,000 hours tutors from Jumpstart and another tutoring program, A Way With Words and Numbers, are spending this year with public school children and community programs such as Nora Stewart Memorial Nursery School and the Boys and Girls Club.

The $785,000 used to run the programs comes from federal and local sources. The programs are typically free to the district, although this year four schools teamed to get an $18,000 grant to help pay for tutors there. Tutors are either unpaid volunteers, or volunteer as part of a service-learning program or are paid as work-study students.

The two programs combine their statistics because they work closely together and are similar in what they do. The hours and cost are a projection for the 2009-2010 school year based on information from previous years and knowing what hours the tutors work each week.

Overall, these numbers have steadily increased over the past three years as both programs have seen growth in the number of student volunteers and schools wanting to include the programs.

“With funding being a constraint, our goal each year is to grow inch by inch to serve more and more children,” said Chrissie Bennett, Jumpstart site manager of the Columbia branch. 

Part of a national program, Jumpstart provides tutoring services to low-income, at-risk preschool children at 10 Columbia schools. Tutors are students from MU and Columbia College whose main focus is to teach the children language and literacy skills.

“This is a little bit different than a job where you go in and work at a desk all day,” Bennett said. “This is actually impacting two to three live little human beings, and I think it can be really powerful for them to see that at the end of the year.”

MU graduate student Jacquelyn Francisco, a tutor with A Way With Words and Numbers, said it has been rewarding to watch the children progress throughout the year.

“Just seeing that they’re success is a result of what this program brings to this community means a lot,” Francisco said.

A Way With Words and Numbers is a 13-year-old program that services children who struggle with reading and math skills. It is available at all elementary and middle schools in the district. 

Director Rob McDaniels said the program is a great opportunity both for the children and the MU undergraduate and graduate students that serve as tutors.

“It’s a really nice way that the University of Missouri and Columbia community are connected,” he said. “It’s one of those win-win situations because everybody benefits from this.”

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