As a reading specialist with many years of experience, Dr. Joyce Hughes knows that many well-intentioned tutoring programs get started and then fade away. But the OASIS tutor training program is different and Hughes knows why.
"It works," she says. "One thing about this program has remained constant. It is based on a long-standing approach to literacy that works. It's a program that complements what a good teacher is already doing. When I first saw the training manual, I said to myself, 'This is something that people can learn to do.'"
Hughes volunteers as a tutor herself, working with as many as seven children in at-risk schools in the San Antonio Independent School District. She has trained OASIS more than 1,200 tutors over 13 years, an experience she describes as "sheer pleasure."
"I'm just always energized by the tutor training groups," says Hughes. "They're already here, so that demonstrates that they have a heart for service. Some of our volunteer tutors are grandparents, but some are not. They all have an interest in children."
Hughes spends a lot of her own time recruiting new tutoring volunteers and speaking about the program, but she says the tutors themselves do an excellent job of spreading the word the opportunity to help children in this meaningful way.
"I know when they start the training, they don't realize the impact they are going to have on a child," she says. "But after the end of their first month as a tutor, they do. That relationship you build up is very special to that child. In a tutor, they have a non-threatening person who is just there to see them do what they can do."
Hughes says the teachers are impressed with OASIS tutors because they come to the schools prepared and trained, a big plus that maximizes the individualized attention students receive with the program.
"There is quite a lot of research proving the importance of intensive, early intervention," says Hughes. "The individualized approach can change a child's attitude and their ability to communicate and respond. They are more willing to take a chance. When you can intervene, one-on-one with something that is sound and good, it's going to make a difference."