Vassar After School Tutoring (VAST)
Vassar After School Tutoring (VAST) is an academic enrichment and mentoring program housed at Poughkeepsie Middle School since 2003. Each semester, approximately 50 Vassar College student mentors are paired one-on-one with 50 Poughkeepsie Middle School students in grades 6-8 to help with homework and developing academic and literacy skills. VAST mentors also lead enrichment activities for the scholars on topics of their choice, such as writing a literary magazine, cooking new foods, exploring hip-hop and social justice, and participating in meditation and conflict resolution. All VAST activities are designed to build students’ self-confidence, foster collaboration and teamwork, promote student achievement and academic excellence, and prepare students for leadership roles in school and the community. VAST occurs at Poughkeepsie Middle School on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after school.
The VAST program for the academic year 2014/15 was made up of approximately 50 college tutor/mentors and 50 Poughkeepsie Middle School scholars. Besides tutoring 6th, 7th and 8th grade students at Poughkeepsie Middle School, the focus for enrichment was on science, art, sports and mentor reflection and program analysis.
Once a month, VAST scholars and families are invited to Vassar College to participate in a community event. During the 2014/2015 academic year VAST sponsored these events:
- Vassar Professor Chris Smart led a chemistry demonstration for families on Vassar campus.
- Members of the Vassar College Geology Department led a tour of the Vassar's geology museum
- VAST Mentors also created and executed science lessons for activity Fridays:
- Vassar's Education students led chemistry experiments in which they investigated different solutions
- creating projects with Snap Circuits® (a gift from IBM) such as FM radios, digital voice recorders, AM radios, burglar alarms, doorbells, and much more
- creating giant bubbles with dish detergent and glycerin
- VAST Scholars visited Vassar for Women and Men's Volleyball, Soccer and Lacrosse and Squash - a wildly popular activity for the VAST scholars and Vassar athletes!
- 8th grade graduation and Field Day included a sack race with mentors and scholars, hula hoops and other games following the graduation ceremony
- The VC Women's Basketball team visited the middle school and lead drills and games
- A trip to the Vassar College Francis Lehman Loeb Museum coincided with three visiting Tibetan Buddhist monks creating a mandala on campus
- Art lessons encourage creativity using different mediums: canvas, paint, crayons and hair dryers
- Vassar a capella groups visit the Poughkeepsie Middle School to entertain and inspire the scholars
- Ukulele instruction
- Vassar's Hip Hop Dance group entertained and led a dance workshop
- Head mentorship created in 2013 and further explored in 2014/15- Weekly meetings with mentor leaders to brainstorm ideas for program with VAST fellow and director
- Community work study student meetings to support college student mentors and their scholars
- Professor Erin McCloskey, Education faculty member, gave talk about adolescence and school culture to college tutor/mentors
8th grade students who graduate from VAST have the option of enrolling in Exploring College as high school freshmen.
Check out the VAST Scholars blog to learn more about what we do at VAST and read some of our scholar work.
For more information about VAST, contact Max Cordeiro at email@example.com.