The Tutor Connection Program created by the County Office of Education’s
Michelle Lustig with California State University San Marcos was
recently awarded a $10,000 check from former President Jimmy Carter at
the National Community Service Conference in Atlanta.
The program is the only one in the state to utilize students from the
university’s College of Education to tutor foster children, who range in
age from 5 to 18.
Initiated in 2002, the Tutor Connection qualified as one of three
national finalists for excellence in academic campus-community
collaboration. More than 1,250 student teachers from CSUSM have
participated in the program. Over 1,500 students in foster care have
received tutoring services. Academic outcomes include 70 percent of
students improving their reading scores and 80 percent improving their
performance in at least one subject area.
Lustig, who worked with CSUSM professor John Halcon to devise the
program, said, "The Tutor Connection Program is unique and valuable in
that it is increasing the knowledge of a generation of new teachers,"
said Lustig. "This program changes the perception that many have of
at-risk kids. It gives people a better understanding of where the youth
come from, and bridges those two worlds together."
The funds awarded by President Carter will be used to purchase gasoline
cards to assist tutors and reduce transportation expenses tutors incur
driving to and from the homes of the foster youth.
"The tutors have endured the burden of rising gas prices for a long
time," Lustig said. "This will cut some of their personal costs and
assist them in continuing the journey of becoming great teachers."
Halcon and Lustig have worked towards creating a program that will
improve the educational needs of foster youth. "It is extremely
important to understand the needs of foster youth children, and to see
them for the bright and resilient children that they are" said Lustig.
All youth enrolled in the program must commit to work with their tutor
for a minimum of one to three hours per week for 12 weeks.
Also involved with the program is the San Diego County Health and Human
Services/Child Welfare Services and Casey Family Programs.