“Memphis Model” puts college tutors in some SCS classrooms

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Shelby County Schools, Peer Power, and the University of Memphis are working together to up performance in some high school classrooms.

They celebrated the "Memphis Model" Wednesday and explained how high-performing U of M students would soon be tutoring during the school day in East High and Whitehaven High Schools.

"Quite frankly, the school district is not equipped to provide all the support that our students need," said SCS Superintendent Dorsey Hopson.

"These teachers did not sign on to raise 30 kids at a time. They signed on to teach them, and they cannot do it without help," said local businessman and Peer Power Chairman Charlie McVean.

McVean has been running Peer Power for 10 years.

His organization paid students to tutor their peers.

Rather than an after-school program, the Memphis Model put college students into classrooms during the school day.

Officials said the move would bring the student to teacher ratio at East and Whitehaven from 28:1 to roughly 7:1.

Tutors would work with students on math, science, and literacy.

A representative for the program told WREG about 125 U of M students would provide 1,000 hours of instruction every week.

McVean said this type of program is more than just tutoring.

He said it creates jobs and inspires healthy competition, because students would be divided into teams and each was striving to be the top-performing group.

"The thing that caught my attention was getting paid to tutor," said recent Whitehaven graduate Tyra Neal.

She tutored at her school for about two years, and said she wanted to continue tutoring with the Memphis Model as a freshman at U of M.

"We've had students who were on the verge of joining gangs, but they would rather come to Peer Power after school. They excelled," Neal said.

The tutors will be in place next school year.

Organizers said this program costs about $1.9 million.

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