Fraternities educate city's youth
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 23:02
Invested in the knowledge of kids half their age, members of the Sigma Chi and Chi Phi fraternities at A&M tutor children at College Hills Missionary Baptist Church every week for an hour.
Each fraternity dedicates a day per week towards mentoring and supplementing the education of children from elementary school to high school, tutoring in subjects from math and English to science.
The two fraternities began a partnership with 99 Tutors, whose founder and president Detrick Eaton described it as tutoring “for students by students.”
“[Eaton] saw a need for a tutoring and mentoring program here because he’s a member of the church,” said Parker Lachowsky, senior biology major and president of Sigma Chi Fraternity.
Lachowsky said this has been the most successful year so far, and that tutoring has been a way for him to take his mind off of stresses, while still doing something productive.
“Honestly — getting to work with these kids and getting to know them – they come up with some stuff you would never think they would come out and say,” Lachowsky said. “It takes me back to elementary days when you talk about warm fuzzies. [Tutoring] is something where the benefit to you is really intrinsic in the actual work, not something you need to be compensated for.”
In 2002, Eaton started the program that has since grown to be the largest off-campus employer of A&M students in College Station. The tutoring service recruits A&M students to tutor and mentor local elementary, middle school and high school students free of charge at nearby churches.
99 Tutors also offers tutoring to students at A&M at a discounted price for veterans or children of veterans, students with a mom in Aggie Mothers, and students in the Corps of Cadets.
Eaton started the services with hopes to provide a way for students to excel.
“Most students don’t have all of the tools to be successful, so sometimes just a little bit of extra help makes a big difference,” Eaton said. “So we put this together to be able to provide a service from peers, which makes it a more conducive learning style.”
The fraternity members of Chi Phi are newcomers, joining Sigma Chi this year as tutors through 99 Tutors.
“We’ve never really had a concrete program like we have now,” said James Koy, senior petroleum engineering major and president of Chi Phi Fraternity. “It’s something we wanted to get involved in because we can carry it on for years to come.”
Throughout the process of interaction and learning opportunities, the fraternity members have not only forged an educative bond with the kids, but friendships as well.
“The one [student] I’ve got the main bond with will tell you that he doesn’t like me,” Lachowsky said. “He’s so smart. He’s gotten to where he thinks it’s a game with me — he says he’s doing his part if he comes in and splits his homework with me and that’s my half to do, and if he does his half we will get it done faster.”
Lachowsky said he’s funny and wise beyond his years, but nevertheless, a bargain man.
Although connections are constantly made, Koy said they keep it structured. He said they have to be the bad guy, because the students are there to do their homework, so it’s impossible to always be the good guy.
“They come back every week, so you know what they are struggling with,” Koy said. “You can definitely see a progression.”
Eaton applauded the fraternity members’ hard work, acknowledging their sacrifice in spending hours tutoring.
“The fraternities go through a full class day and still take time out of a busy 10- or 12-hour day to work with a total stranger through mentoring and big-brothering,” Eaton said. “It takes patience — it takes a lot.”
Eaton also recognized how unique the fraternity members’ consistency of service is.
“Most organizations have philanthropies that they do once a semester, but this is their philanthropy that they do all year round,” Eaton said.
Bradley Williamson, junior business major and member of the Chi Phi Fraternity, said he thinks their efforts are proving helpful.
“If you learn to do your homework young and keep up with it, then you will learn to do it in high school and college,” Williamson said.