In-person interaction such as this session during the fall semester is out, but Sacramento State students in the PAVE program are reaching out in other ways. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)
By Cynthia Hubert
Sacramento State students the week of May 4 began virtually visiting with youth from 61 schools in the city, offering tutoring, mentoring and help in preparing for college.
The arrangement with the Sacramento City Unified School District continues an alliance that began last year. Partnerships to Advance the Value of Education, or PAVE, is designed to benefit both University scholars and students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Until the coronavirus crisis forced a switch to strictly online education, Sac State PAVE students from all areas of study were visiting school campuses, sitting in on classes, offering tutoring services, and answering questions about college admissions and other issues related to higher education.
The program came to an abrupt halt last month as students of all ages pivoted to online learning, said Chao Vang of Sac State’s Student Academic Success and Educational Equity Programs.
But PAVE members missed interacting with the younger students, Vang said.
“In the midst of all of this, our students wanted to keep tutoring,” he said. “They were asking, ‘How can I continue to do this off site?’ ”
PAVE collaborated with the local school district and came up with a plan to conduct virtual tutoring via the Zoom computer platform.
Students and their parents receive e-mailed profiles of their PAVE partners, and can choose areas of focus, Vang said. Tutors are available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 pm.
“We want to be a resource for distance learning, and we want to be very flexible,” he said.
The online version of the program will continue through the district’s school year and into the summer. PAVE also plans to offer the program in the fall.
PAVE is one example of how the University continues to be active and influential in the region, said Marcellene Watson-Derbigny, associate vice president for Student Retention and Academic Success.
"The opportunity to support scholars in our region is of high importance to our unit, the Division of Student Affairs, and the campus,” she said. “It underscores our commitment to serving the community in a time when it is most critically needed.
“The support being offered through PAVE will help students working hard on their academics in our local districts to gain the vital support needed to finish their last quarter with success.”
PAVE member Jonnathon Aguilar, a Sac State senior who wants to teach high school history, has been with the program since its inception. In addition to giving him teaching experience and the satisfaction of helping students, the program provides a small stipend for his work.
The PAVE program “really sealed the deal for me,” said Aguilar, a first-generation college student whose parents immigrated from Mexico. As a child he received help from tutors and mentors, “and I really appreciated that help,” he said.
Earlier this semester, Aguilar worked face to face with students at McClatchy High, one of the highlights of which was hosting a Power Point presentation about writing and outlining. He was disappointed when classrooms suddenly shuttered.
“We grew such good relationships with students, and things happened so fast we hardly got to say goodbye,” he said. “That was the saddest part.”
Aguilar has worked with several students online this week. He misses seeing them in person, he said.
“I’m a classroom person,” Aguilar said. “It’s harder to build relationships this way. But I still think it can make a difference, and I’m going to keep going.
“I’m going to make it the best it can possibly be.”
SCUSD Superintendent Jorge Aguilar praised the district's partnership with Sac State.
“We cannot underscore enough how much we value our partnerships with Sac State to continue serving our students,” he said. “This monumental shift in how we serve our students has been difficult for all of us, especially for our students.
"We want to thank PAVE for their virtual tutoring program in helping Sac City Unified meet our students’ academic, social and emotional needs during distance learning. We know that times are difficult, but we will make it through by working together. “