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Federal Employees Unite for Local Tutoring Program

When Michael Heryak, Office of the Chief Information Officer, and team members from other local federal agencies graduated from the Cleveland Federal Community Leadership Institute (CFCLI) last summer, their work was far from done. A tutoring program they had developed while in the CFCLI program needed to be launched--and they vowed to do it.

CFCLI is a one-year career development program, organized by the Cleveland Federal Executive Board (FEB) that identifies and develops leaders committed to advancing greater cooperation among federal agencies, and to strengthening community partnerships.

Two members of CFCLI Education Team with student. Credit: NASA/Doreen B. ZudellImage right: Stephan Ulmore, seated, a fourth grader at Clare E. Westropp School, meets with tutor, Jerry DeGarmo, FBI, while Heryak, standing, looks on. Credit: NASA/Doreen B. Zudell

Heryak and participants from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the United States Post Office, the United States Coast Guard and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service were part of the 2005-2006 CFCLI Education Team. The team was tasked to identify an education-related need in the Greater Cleveland community.

"The Cleveland Municipal School District has experienced severe budget cuts, which forced the cancellation of the Helping One Student To Succeed (HOSTS) tutor intervention program in the 2004-2005 school year," Heryak explained. "The elimination of this successful program, which was conducted in 50 elementary and K-8 Cleveland schools, took away a valuable service to the students."

With the goal of developing a new tutoring program, the CFCLI Education Team researched past and present effective tutoring programs. They met with the Greater Cleveland Partnership's (GCP) Director of Education Initiatives, David W. Anderson, in January 2006 to discuss various possibilities for GCP and FEB partnering.

Based on the team's assessments, they determined that focusing on K-4 in the areas of reading and math would provide the biggest impact on children's education. The direct results of tutoring would not only improve overall comprehension and performance in school, but measurable test results could be obtained from the standardized academic tests given throughout the year.

The GCP agreed to support the project and recommended Memorial Elementary School on E. 152 and Clara E. Westropp School on Puritas Avenue as the pilot schools for the 2006-2007 school year.

While the 2005-2006 CFCLI Education Team officially disbanded in June 2006, most of the members agreed to stay together to see the project through fruition. They solicited tutors from various federal agencies, conducted training and developed a schedule for one-hour tutoring sessions within the two schools. They recruited 48 federal employees who are in the process of tutoring 31 students within the two schools. Eight employees are from NASA Glenn.

A graduate of the Cleveland schools, Heryak is proud that he has the opportunity to nurture today's students through this program. "This experience shows that federal employees tutoring within the community help to create a partnership between the federal government and the local community," Heryak said. "By participating in this program, tutors, students, parents and teachers interact in constructive ways that benefit all involved."

With positive feedback from the schools, the team hopes to expand the number of tutors to 100 during the 2007-2008 school year. Heryak hopes that many of the new tutors are from NASA Glenn and is seeking one of them, or one of the current tutors, to assume his role as the center's tutor coordinator.

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By Doreen B. Zudell