The Transylvania Times -

Rise & Shine Welcomes Public To 'Be A Guest Tutor For A Day'


November 27, 2017

Courtesy Photo

Guest tutor Jane McKoewn helps a scholar.

At first, it looked unlikely that anything good could come out of Hurricane Irma, the remnants of which lashed Transylvania County with high winds and heavy rains in early September, forcing a one-day school closing.

When the makeup day was set for what had been a teacher workday, Rise & Shine was left with a day of school for which it had scheduled no after-school program.

Rise & Shine/Neighbors in Ministry turned crisis into opportunity, responding to an abrupt change in the school schedule by creating an event called "Be a Guest Tutor for a Day."

"People from the community who had expressed an interest in Rise & Shine were invited to experience the magic first hand," said Laura Leatherwood, Rise and Shine's guided reading teacher, in a written description of the event.

The idea, according to Leatherwood, was to recruit tutors and donors by showing off the after-school program's work with its 50 "scholars" and to demonstrate how eagerly these students respond.

The inaugural event, held Oct. 23 through Oct. 26, did exactly that, according to the written comments left by guest tutor Susan Andresen.

"I tutored for several years and came back to guest tutor this week. The structure and discipline of the scholars was wonderful."

Guest tutor Jane McKeown, who worked with scholar Ikoa Crite, wrote that "Ikoa knows the inflection of a question mark at the end of a sentence and he is only in first grade!"

Board member Ruth Lentz came up with the idea of using guest tutors to fill the void. Other program leaders quickly realized the one-day event, expanded to a week, could reach more potential tutors.

They were convinced to hold it annually after it proved to be a hit with guests and scholars.

The guest tutors received a short orientation followed by an assignment to work one-on-one with a scholar for a 40-minute homework session.

They had three sessions with three different scholars. During the two-hour program, the scholars, who represent all races and are chosen based on financial need, complete homework with guidance from volunteer tutors; they attend guided reading sessions with trained instructors; and they participate in a STEAM program that focuses on science and math.

Before embarking on this rigorous program every afternoon, the scholars receive hugs from staffers and, thanks to a grant and a partnership with Transylvania County Schools, a hot meal.

Three of the guests tutors signed up to be regular tutors, while five more will serve as substitutes.

They all "had positive comments about the opportunity to participate," Leatherwood wrote.

Among its other annual events, Rise & Shine recently hosted members of the Brevard/Transylvania County Chamber of Commerce for a game of "Are You Smarter than a Rise & Shine Scholar?"

According to tutor Altha Gordon, who assisted with this event, "Many of the Chamber members had to really think about their answers before responding."

Rise & Shine also brought volunteers, staffers, parents and scholars together for its annual Fall Feast to celebrate the start of another school year. Tutors and classroom teachers sat with their scholars and families so that they could share their experiences with the parents.

Its main fundraiser, "Motown Memories," which will feature dinner, dancing, musical performances and a silent auction, is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, 2018 at the Brevard Music Center.

Leatherwood said potential donors don't have to wait to give. Rise & Shine is a non-profit organization, which is supported by the United Way, individual donors and grants from various sources, but no government funding. Private donors also contribute for some of the special programs that are provided for the scholars.

Potential tutors do not need to wait for the next Guest Tutor Week to check out the program.

"Of course, we would love to have visitors come to Rise & Shine at any time to see the enrichment program in action," Leatherwood said.

Anyone interested in donating, volunteering or visiting should email Leatherwood or Program Director William Mills at of [email protected] or call (828) 883-2295.

And anyone who checks out the organization's website,, will find out that the guest tutor program is hardly the first event the organization has created in a crisis.


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