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[Tuesday, December 04, 2007]


McHenry County College Sage Learning Center tutor Charlie Lundgren assists Dean Diaz of McHenry with a college algebra problem during a recent afternoon. Sage Learning Center became certified by the College Reading and Learning Association’s (CRLA), International Tutor Program Certification.

The Sage Learning Center at McHenry County College was recently awarded level one tutor training certification by the College Reading and Learning Association’s (CRLA) International Tutor Program Certification. CRLA is a group of student-oriented professionals active in the fields of reading, learning assistance, developmental education and tutorial services at the college level.

This award recognizes the prodigious amount of work by Sage Learning Center staff, Bob Reass, math specialist; Deborah Skozek, writing/English specialist; and Tawnja Trimble, department secretary; put forth in creating and documenting a training plan, which would meet the high standards of CRLA. They provided this training to the individual tutors.

This certification recognizes the individual tutors’ successful work in completing the training and demonstrates that they have attained the high standard of skills and training required for tutors of McHenry County College. The tutors were also trained in Student Code of Conduct, federal student privacy laws and customer service.

A total of 24 Sage Learning Center and Special Needs Department tutors earned their individual certification by completing 10 hours of skill training and by providing a minimum of 25 hours of tutoring to MCC students. Tutors include a full-time math and a full-time English specialist, along with adjunct faculty and student/peer tutors.

Sage Learning Center staff members Trimble, Reass and Skozek spent one year to developing the training program for this first group of tutors. A second group of tutors will begin training soon while the first group will work toward Levels II and III certification this summer.

“We chose CRLA because it allows us to certify our own tutors,” said Skozek, one of the training coordinators. “We also wanted to stabilize our method of operation with best practices.”

This training was made possible by a $4,028 grant from the Friends of MCC Foundation. Sage Learning Center was named in honor of Sage Products, Inc. CEO Vince Foglia’s generous gift that established the Sage Products College Opportunity Endowment at MCC.

In addition to tutoring students who are struggling, Sage Learning Center is open to students who just want to improve their grades. To monitor how students are doing, Sage Learning Center staff tracks students’ success rate by comparing them to the rest of the students in their same class level or course.

“We work with students wherever they are in their learning and bring them forward,” said Reass, math specialist.

“We found that our tutored students significantly outperform the rest of the student body. We really do see ourselves as a supplement to what goes on in the classroom,” he said.

To publicize their services and to help students before they get too far behind, Sage Center staff supplied teachers with stickers, “Got tutoring? See Sage” to give to students.

Some of the tutors started as students looking for help, and they earned their associate degree and came back to work in the center as tutors. The peer tutors are recruited by Reass or math faculty as was Charlie Lundgren. He started out as a peer tutor and earned an associate in science degree in 2005 and transferred to Northern Illinois University (NIU) for a year, majoring in computer science. He decided to come back to MCC to work as a tutor while he prepares to attend Columbia College to study history and philosophy next fall.

“I think it’s great. It’s an ego booster,” Lundgren said about being tutor certified. He describes the Sage Learning Center as “a great reinforcement for learning.”

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