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Tutors Among Those to be Honored During Academic Excellence Celebration at Morrisville State College

MORRISVILLE, NY—Four times a week, Joseph McCants can be found in Morrisville State College’s Academic Support Center (ASC) helping fellow students with homework, assisting them with studying and offering classroom tips and encouragement.

McCants, of Bronx, N.Y., is a peer tutor in the ASC where he works 10 hours a week tutoring gaming, casino security and hospitality subject areas.

He is one of nearly 40 tutors working in the center who will be honored during the college’s Academic Excellence celebration this month. The celebration is an annual event that touts the academic achievements of students. ASC tutors will be recognized during Tutor Appreciation Week April 16-20 with activities and prizes at the center.

Like many peer tutors at Morrisville State College, McCants, a gaming and casino management major, has found more than a job in his position.

“The sense of satisfaction you receive helping someone is very rewarding,” Dennis DeGroat, a Morrisville State College alumnus who returned to work as a staff assistant in the center, said. DeGroat, a Morrisville resident, tutors accounting, math and business.

“It’s rewarding when students come back and tell me how much better they have done on an essay after I have helped them,” Jessica Schwatz, a nursing major from Morrisville, N.Y., who tutors English and botany, said.

Tutors at the college’s ASC provide students with a range of services including note taking skills, comprehension of basic concepts or key ideas, and organizing course materials.

“Since I help a variety of people I try to come up with individual strategies to help different people,” DeGroat said. “I try to do things in a way they like and understand.”

His approach of tackling problems in pieces works well for Evans Frimpong, of Bronx, N.Y., an accounting major who seeks occasional accounting assistance from DeGroat.

“I like the way he explains things,” Frimpong said of DeGroat. “He takes time out to make sure I understand everything and he breaks down the steps for me so I understand better.”

It isn’t always possible for tutors to provide everything students need, however.

“When that happens I try to introduce them to other resources like books and campus resources that are also available to them,” Schwatz said.

To McCants, being a tutor is rewarding in additional ways.

“It provides a constant source of learning,” he said. “When you are teaching or helping, in some way, you are learning too.”

And there are other benefits.

“It’s a source for generating new ideas,” McCants said.

Along the way, he has gained some valuable tools too, like learning how to be a good listener. He’s also increased his social skills and has made new friends.

Tutors, who are recommended by their professors for positions, must meet requirements to maintain their jobs.

In addition to having strong knowledge of the content of courses they tutor, they must also have interpersonal skills, such as the ability to communicate clearly and the ability to empathize with others, Stephanie Lawhorne, director of the ASC, said.

Every semester, hundreds of students utilize Morrisville State College’s tutoring services, Lawhorne said.

“However, there are probably many students who could benefit from peer tutoring who haven’t been taking advantage of this opportunity,” she said. “Tutoring is not just for the student who is close to failing; it is also for the student who is passing but would like an even higher grade.”

Schwatz decided to become a tutor to help fellow students and because of its convenience.

“I live off campus and I don’t have far to drive to get here,” she said. “I was able to choose my hours and work around my classes.”

Among the ways tutors measure their success is through the number of “regulars” who return for assistance and those who stop by to say thank you.

For McCants, tutoring is all about team work, a concept he is familiar with as a member of the college’s basketball team.

“It is important to work together to determine exactly where help is needed and what type of assistance is needed,” DeGroat said.

In addition to tutor recognition during the college’s Academic Excellence Celebration, the following events will also be held: a liberal arts tea, recognizing the accomplishments of students in the liberal arts programs; an Academic Excellence reception at the Norwich Campus; science and technology honors dinner; Agriculture Day April 26; Phi Theta Kappa induction ceremony and a Student Government Organization (SGO) awards ceremony.

The ASC, located in Onondaga Hall, also houses the college’s Disability Services Office, which offers specialized equipment for students with learning and physical disabilities. In addition to the director and the coordinator of disability services, the ASC employs a math specialist and a reading specialist who are also available to students. Recently, the ASC has also hired several part-time professional tutors in writing and math.

Morrisville State College offers more than 70 bachelor and associate degrees. Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers programs in business, computer technology, office administration, liberal arts/education transfer, nursing and early childhood to Chenango County area residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the main campus.