Tutoring program, new to county, is geared toward getting seniors involved

Tutoring program is new to county
Amanda Plybon
By: 
Dave Faries
Editor

Amanda Plybon admits Oasis Institute has found it difficult to get an intergenerational tutoring program for Audrain and Callaway Counties off the ground.

The St. Louis-based organization has funding. A grant from the AmeriCorps Senior RSVP program was in place, allowing Oasis to cover several Missouri counties. But it was 2020, and finding participants — both volunteers and schools — was a challenge.

“We’re just now getting started,” she said. “COVID stalled a lot of things.”

Plybon was recently named RSVP coordinator for the tutoring program in Audrain and Callaway Counties. And she recognizes challenges still exist before the program reaches its potential.

The mission of Oasis is to improve the lives of older adults, in part through involvement in volunteer programs. The intergenerational tutoring program began in 1989, pairing trained seniors with children in grades K-3 to work one on one each week with a goal of improving literacy.

Participating schools identify students who may need help improving vocabulary, reading comprehension and writing.

But Plybon has been in the role for a month and has only started reaching out to schools and searching for qualified volunteers.

Although pandemic-related mandates appear to be canceled at the moment, the recent surge of the Delta variant means a return to uncertainty.

“We don’t know what fall will look like,” Plybon said. “I have realistic expectations this first year.”

Plybon grew up in Fulton. After college, she returned to Callaway County.

“Through this grant Oasis has been able to push into rural communities,” she explained. “We are rural Missouri. We have many families who may need to participate.”

Callaway County has benefited from an RSVP grant. And Oasis Institute has placed more than 2,000 volunteers with students around the state.

However, the program is new to Audrain County.

“That’s where I come in,” Plybon said.

She has spent her first month as coordinator presenting the program to local organizations, hoping that this will encourage volunteer tutors to come forward. She also plans to introduce it to area grade schools.

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