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Gearing Students for Success

Nicole Hubbard, June 23, 2010
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At the center of academic success at Pacific Union College is the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). The TLC provides students with comprehensive academic support, helping students develop competencies that directly enhance their success in the classroom. Jennifer Wareham Best, TLC director, envisions what is necessary for student success. "My role is multifaceted and has an arm in student persistence, academic support programs, and academic problem-solving," she says.

Wareham Best heads a TLC team that offers services such as academic mentoring and advising, group and individual tutoring sessions, and workshops and services catering to frustrated learners and students with learning disabilities. It is Wareham Best’s job not only to devise programs to support her vision to help students succeed, but also to hire people who love students and have a passion for their success to run these programs. “The things I like best about my job,” she says, “are strategic planning for student success and seeing the light come on in students’ eyes when these strategies work for them.”

Valerie Yingling, TLC tutoring coordinator, is responsible for hiring and training student tutors who facilitate group study sessions for a wide variety of classes and also work one-on-one with students who need additional support to be successful. This requires her to keep in close contact with faculty and also to keep in contact with the students in order to support them as they strive for success and to ensure that their academic needs are met. "Students talking to each other and with their teachers is important," Yingling says, "as attitudes toward educators affect success."

During her working hours, Yingling is often the friendly face students first meet on entering the TLC, if she is not off checking on the tutors to ensure their sessions are running smoothly. “This is my philosophy,” she says. “I wish more students would choose to take advantage of the TLC group study sessions, but as long as even one student is coming to a session for help, it is worth it to me to keep that session on the schedule and keep paying the tutor for his or her work."

Alex Larson, a mathematics tutor for the TLC, assists students in their learning experience, both with checking student work and re-teaching concepts that students did not fully grasp in class. “My favorite aspect of tutoring,” says Larson, “is people telling me, ‘Wow, it isn’t that hard!’ The light bulb effect.”

The services offered by the TLC allow students to retain what they have gained in their classes and, furthermore, encourage them to go out into the world and make their own discoveries. “We are not here just to get the job done in a perfunctory-structured way,” Wareham Best asserts. “Our goal is to ignite the love of learning in each student we serve.” This love of learning is what will drive students towards success, motivating them to follow greater learning. “TLC services are a special thing to have on campus,” adds a junior business major who has frequently made use of the TLC and its staff. “The Center is a good resource to have for encouragement and motivation, and helps you fight your worst fears.”

“The TLC has helped me a lot,” another student, an undeclared freshman, agrees. “The mentors there helped me get off of two quarters of academic probation by getting me help for classes I was failing.” The services rendered by the TLC are geared towards teaching students to learn how to learn, preparing them for life beyond college. Tutoring is a learning process in itself, helping student tutors to make connections in their own studies that only explaining those concepts to other students can make. “I enjoy what I do,” says Larson. “Getting paid is a bonus.”

Located next to the Dining Commons on the way to the science complex, the TLC is open Sunday-Friday during the regular school year and reduced hours during the summer session. For more information, students should feel free to drop by or visit the TLC web page.