Want the inside scoop on happenings at Montclair High School? The Bull at MHS is a student-run blog focused on news, events, and issues on the minds of MHS students. Created and edited by sophomore, Lauren Glasse, The Bull has covered a wide variety of subjects from sagging pants, to the racial divide of two small learning communities, to a recent interview with Principal James Earle on the recent demise of a popular lunch-time tutoring program. Several Montclair High students contribute articles and comments are always welcome. Become a reader at http://thebullmhs.com/
MHS’s principal, Mr. James Earle, and a few other sources revealed that a group of MHS teachers recently put the kibosh to the very helpful and popular “Got Tutoring?” lunch-time program. Without this help, many MHS students, myself included, have found it necessary to hire after-school tutors to help them do well in the many rigorous classes that are required for the college bound. With private tutoring prices in Montclair ranging from $60 to $140 an hour, such help is not an option for everyone. For those students whose parents are unable to write the checks, lunch-time tutoring, free of charge, was a great GPA-saving option for extra help. It was also at a time of day most convenient for students and teachers.
Disturbed by this recent event, I sat down with Mr. Earle today to discuss the fate of this program and other issues going on at MHS. Mr. Earle explained that the “Got Tutoring?” program was originally proposed by teachers as a way to help students and better utilize teachers who would otherwise be on hall duty during their free periods. As the first semester ended recently, some teachers who were involved in this program went back to Mr. Earle, citing concerns of contract violations if they were required to continue participation in this program through the second semester. Without support from all of the teachers, the program officially ended. Although several teachers were willing to continue the program, Mr. Earle cannot advertise their services to students en masse because of conflicts with their contract terms. As an educator, Mr. Earle mentioned that he was especially frustrated that some of the school’s other educators would find conflict with their contracts instead of focusing on the best interests of the students.
To avoid conflict with teachers’ contracts next year, Mr. Earle has planned to use half of the teachers to service “Got Tutoring?” for the first semester, and the other half for the second. Although this system may result in a higher student to teacher ratio and a rotation of different teachers each day, it’s the best compromise the administration could make to ensure that this program is available to students for all of next year. Mr. Earle is also willing to compensate the teachers for after school tutoring if he can work out the financial arrangements.
When asked about the large number of students who get tutored just to keep up their grades, Mr. Earle expressed concern over the lack of support provided to students, which in turn makes them seek out tutoring help. He commented that in an environment built around high expectations, MHS students are left to fend for themselves. With hopes of providing a conducive learning enviornment for all students, Mr. Earle is working on establishing the MHS Student Center, a comfortable place to work, print, make copies, get tutored by teachers, and collaborate with other students. This may be created in the new wing of the Freshman Building or on the second floor of the Main Building, utilizing the Writing Center. By day this area will be normal classrooms, but from 3:00 to 6:00 afterschool it would be a haven for students to experience more innovative learning. With access to at least one teacher for each subject, computers and study snacks, Mr. Earle envisions big changes to help MHS students succeed. Even though his idea sounds like a great resource to me, not everyone thinks so, according to Mr. Earle, who apparently has encountered some opposition.
Until “Got Tutoring?” is reinstated next year and the MHS Student Center opens in the near future, I asked the principal what students who need teacher assistance can do in the meantime. Mr. Earle urges students to to tell their teachers that they need help; “Demand it”, he says. He also suggests students share their class and after school schedule with teachers and instead of asking “are you available to help me?”, ask “when are you available to help?” If students still do not get a positive response after contacting their teacher, they are welcome to come to the administration and request help and the necessary arrangements will be made.
After talking with Mr. Earle, I am convinced that he truly does have a vision for greatness at MHS. He emphasized that the resources and foundation are already there, but restructuring needs to be done to take MHS where it needs to go. “I want to move this school into the 21st century.”