LILLIAN HUCKE ’24  |   Published October 13, 2021

It Takes a Village

Monmouth College playing role in Jamieson Center’s Pattee Learning Program, which helps area schoolchildren make strides academically.

HOME ROWE: Monmouth educational studies professor Brad Rowe instructs a student on how to use a t...HOME ROWE: Monmouth educational studies professor Brad Rowe instructs a student on how to use a typewriter during a session at the Jamieson Community Center's Pattee Learning Center on Oct. 12. MONMOUTH, Ill. – There is power in people, a maxim that Monmouth College students are proving through their work at Jamieson Community Center.

The three elementary education majors are serving as after-school tutors at the non-profit facility’s Pattee Learning Center. They work with Monmouth area schoolchildren who have fallen behind academically because of the pandemic or struggles with English.

“Being able to work with children who have had their learning disrupted by COVID makes you feel like a hero,” said Gabriel Martinez ’23 of Fairmount, Minnesota. “It’s a feeling I don’t take for granted. I take pride in working there, and I salute others who devote their time to give back to the community.”

Miracle Cassidy ’25 of Mackinaw, Illinois, and Shepherd Coventon ’22 of Smithshire, Illinois, are also involved.

“It’s wonderful to be a part of, and what they do for each of the children is amazing,” said Cassidy. “We have access to all sorts of books, whiteboard tables, academic learning books and different things like that.”

Helping them catch up

The Monmouth students work with 14 area schoolchildren who have fallen behind in their education. Children enrolled in the program have been identified as being six months to two years below grade level and need significant intervention to get them back on track. The program utilizes an RTI (response to intervention) strategy to provide high-quality instruction in math, reading and writing.

“Being able to work with children who have had their learning disrupted by COVID makes you feel like a hero. It’s a feeling I don’t take for granted. I take pride in working there, and I salute others who devote their time to give back to the community.” Gabriel Martinez

Kathy Mainz, who directs the Jamieson Center program, discussed how students can fall behind.

“In our community, we have families who are Latinx, who typically speak Spanish,” said Mainz, who is Monmouth College’s biology lab manager and longtime coordinator of the College for Kids summer enrichment program. “We also have French-speaking Congolese families, and we have families from Myanmar who speak Chin. We have a variety of cultures and backgrounds that we serve.”

The impact of COVID-19 is another reason the children have fallen behind, said Mainz, who noted that a recent infographic illustrated that children currently in third grade had their last “normal” year in kindergarten and that children in the second grade or younger have never experienced a normal school year.

“All of the parents want their children to succeed, so they are very devoted to getting them to tutoring,” said Mainz. “Even a few weeks back when Monmouth-Roseville had early outs because of heat, parents brought their kids back at 3:30 for tutoring. That shows the priority and commitment on the part of the parents.”

Working with ‘amazing students’

Cammy Davis – a Peace Corps fellow based at Western Illinois University who is serving this school year as an AmeriCorps volunteer at Monmouth College – said the schoolchildren don’t do school homework at Jamieson Center but rather work on assignments provided by the tutors.

TYPING POINTERS: Volunteer Jesus Ayala helps one of the students learn the ropes of working on a ... TYPING POINTERS: Volunteer Jesus Ayala helps one of the students learn the ropes of working on a typewriter.“I work with two first-graders twice a week,” said Davis. “I use a curriculum that was given to me, but I also come up with activities like having students draw a picture and then writing a sentence or two about it and having students use cut-out letters to spell their spelling words.”

Cassidy said she works with “amazing students.”

“The two students I work directly with and are some of the smartest, funniest and full-of-character children you could ever meet,” she said. “I went into this experience setting all sorts of expectations for how my days were going to go, and they are nothing like I imagined. They are so much better. I expected the children to dread doing the work I provide, especially considering how much work they already had to do at school, but the children and I have found a routine that works for us, and it makes every day a lot smoother and happier.”

Like Cassidy, Coventon said she “wasn’t sure what to expect” when she began working at Jamieson Center.

“I went into this experience setting all sorts of expectations for how my days were going to go, and they are nothing like I imagined. They are so much better.” Miracle Cassidy

“It makes me feel empowered to be even a small help to them,” she said. “I’m working with two students who are truly a blessing to be around. Even if it’s only for a short time, they always keep me on my toes, and I am thrilled to be helping them learn. It’s an amazing program to be a part of.”

Davis appreciates the personal attention that the Pattee Learning Center program provides.

“With small groups you can give students the direction and attention they require to learn,” she said. “They tell me about their family, pets or favorite places to eat, and I tell them a little about myself, too. Building these connections and relationships help the learning process.”

Tutors wanted

Created in 2017, the Pattee Learning Center program runs from 3:30-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Mainz said the program is still seeking tutors who are dedicated to education and to working with young students.

“We’re looking for students who have a strong commitment to education,” she said. “They don’t have to be education majors to apply, just someone who just has a strong commitment to education and to helping kids.”

Tutors can work two days a week or four days a week, depending on their availability. They are paid minimum wage, with an additional paid preparation period from 3-3:30 p.m. before the tutoring session. Those interested in becoming a tutor should contact Mainz at

# # #

Jamieson Community Center serves residents primarily in Warren County. More than 2,500 people receive assistance from their programs. Its Pattee Learning Center is funded by the Pattee Foundation, a nonprofit charitable foundation dedicated to children and education. More information is available at

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