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Suburban community located eight miles west of Boston

Appro. 83,800 residents

The safest city in the nations (2002-05)

The 4th safest city in 2006 (due to statistics on crime reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Newton Keeping Ahead To Leave No Child Behind

The Newton school system introduced a free tutoring program to help students who don’t have learning disabilities but are struggling in math class.


Newton – When your child struggles with schoolwork and a tutor is necessary, one of the biggest roadblocks to getting help is money. The Newton School Volunteer Group is a free after- school math tutoring program that is a partnership between the school district and volunteers.

“It provides students that don’t have learning disabilities but need extra support outside of the classroom in math the opportunity to receive one on one instruction in areas directly related to classroom instruction,” said Paula Steen, the program’s coordinator.

The service is available to all elementary school students in the Newton public schools who need help in math. A student is referred to the program by either their teacher or parent. Steen matches the students with tutors depending upon availability.

Click to see the video from Paula's interview.

Tutors range from college freshmen to eighty-nine year old grandparents. Steen advertises for tutors in accounting firms and among retired teachers, but doesn’t exclude anyone. “If they are worried they can’t do the math,” Steen said, “they can start out in second grade and move up with their student to the fifth grade.”

The pool of 163 tutors also includes parents that want to teach the same grade that their children are in to learn the math. “Math was always my weakest subject,” said Judy Kingston, a tutor of a second grader at the Mason Rice School, “but I was extremely embarrassed one night when I was helping my second grade daughter with her math homework and she corrected me on a mistake I made.”

Kingston learned of the tutoring program through a request for volunteers printed in the local newspaper. While reading the ad she realized she could “face her demons and give individual attention and support to a child that might not have a parent available to help them.” 

Since last October, Kingston has been meeting every Tuesday after school with her student. “I used to be afraid to raise my hand in math class,” said Victoria Joseph, Kingston’s second grade student. “Judy helps me with my homework so I can give the right answer in class.”

Click to see the video Judy's interview.


“I think the tutoring program is excellent,” said Barbara Joseph, Victoria’s mother. “The tutoring really helped Victoria and eliminated the stress at home of trying to explain her homework to her. Victoria went from an unsatisfactory mark to above average in one grading period.”

Mary Kelliher, Victoria’s second grade teacher also has noticed a change in Victoria’s performance in math class. “The program built her self-confidence and gave her extra reinforcement of the concepts,” said Kelliher. “There is a positive change in her attitude towards math, as well as an increased participation in math class.”

Special training is provided in the form of monthly workshops for the tutors. The topics range from the use of games in tutoring to tutoring for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System.

“Among the features of the tutoring program associated with the most positive gains,” said Carolyn Wyatt, the assistant head of elementary math curriculum for the Newton schools, “are extensive training for our tutors, formal time commitments by our tutors, structured tutoring sessions, careful monitoring of tutoring services, and close relationships between classroom instruction and curriculum and the tutoring services provided.”

The tutoring program has been in existence for five years. The program currently has 174 elementary school students, which grew from the initial enrollment of 30 students. Some tutors work with more than one child.  Every student meets with their tutor an hour a week.