Petersburg City Public Schools and Virginia State University (VSU) have kicked off a program to support students at J.E.B. Stuart Elementary and Peabody Middle, unveiling a plan to improve academic achievement while providing training for future teachers.
Students from VSU’s Department of Teaching and Learning within the College of Education will tutor students in math for the remainder of this school year. Tutors will work during the school day with students in grades 3-5 at J.E.B. Stuart and with students in grades 6-8 at Peabody Middle. The tutoring program will provide authentic experience for the future teachers from VSU and will help Petersburg students prepare to take Virginia Standards of Learning tests this spring.
“Virginia State University has been a strong partner for this city and a firm supporter and friend of the school system for decades,” said Dr. Marcus J. Newsome, superintendent of Petersburg City Public Schools. “That connection has only grown stronger since Dr. Abdullah came on board. We believe that Petersburg students can accomplish anything as long as the adults in their lives believe in them. We are working together to help students achieve success.”
Joined by members of his leadership team including Dr. Robert Corley, interim dean of the College of Education, Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, president of Virginia State University, spoke about the special relationship between VSU and Petersburg schools and stressed the importance of math.
“I believe this partnership is so important because we know that the first step to a career in science, technology, engineering or math begins with math skills learned in school,” Dr. Abdullah said.
Dr. Donald Bechtel, interim principal of Peabody Middle, and Tracy Stith-Johnson, principal of J.E.B. Stuart Elementary, welcomed the math tutoring program as part of the work being done within Petersburg City Public Schools to move forward to full accreditation and to help students envision their futures.
The tutoring program is part of a growing connection between Virginia State University and Petersburg City Public Schools that is demonstrated in multiple ways:
- VSU students in the Three M Society (Male Teachers Molding Minds) mentor J.E.B. Stuart Elementary students on Mondays after school.
- VSU is integral to the Petersburg City and Schools Partnership, which works to improve community support in order to maximize readiness to learn.
- Petersburg City Public Schools recruits and hires VSU graduates, and employees of Petersburg schools earn undergraduate and graduate degrees from the university.
- VSU leaders, educators and students turned out on the first day of school to welcome students and families and participated in Read Across America activities on March 2.
- J.E.B. Stuart and VSU are connected through the Growing Petersburg Garden Project.
- Petersburg schools and VSU are partners in several grant programs, including GEAR UP, which prepares low-income students to enroll in college.
Dr. Newsome said additional partnerships are being planned “to the mutual benefit of our institutions and our community.”