By Karl Weisel (USAG Wiesbaden)July 21, 2009
WIESBADEN, Germany -- Success in school can be a challenge for any student. Add in the absence of parental role models due to deployments, the stress of living overseas or being a new student in a foreign place, and achieving academic success can seem even more daunting.
Enter Duria Hudson Jr. and U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Youth Services' Power Hour homework lab. Thanks to the efforts of Hudson and a group of dedicated peer tutors, around six dozen students managed to raise their grades and gain a healthy helping of self-confidence in their academic abilities.
Hudson, a child and youth program assistant manager with Wiesbaden Youth Services, was honored by the Wiesbaden Education Association as the Support Person of the Year.
Hudson's citation noted how "U.S. Army Garrison Child, Youth and School Services' Youth Services has pioneered a highly regarded tutoring program in cooperation with Department of Defense Dependents Schools. The program was developed two years ago by YS director Aaron Chapuis and school liaison officer Peter Witmer."
Hudson was noted for his efforts in providing a support network for Wiesbaden High School students helping offer academic assistance and mentoring.
"It's peer tutoring," explained Hudson, "kids tutoring other kids who are most at risk for academic failure."
"I'm ecstatic about the recognition," said Hudson. "It's a blessing for me to be an influence in these children's lives."
The 22-year military veteran of several deployments himself, including Deserts Shield and Storm, Hudson said he can relate to the pressures students experience when a parent or parents are away from home for a lengthy chunk of the school year. "Somebody tutored my kid when I was in Desert Storm and now I'm giving back.
"Regardless of how it is, these are some major changes in these kids' lives."
Being aware of the important "three-way tie" between a student's academic, athletic and social lives is an important part of helping them focus their energies and become more self-sufficient, he said. "When their academic or social life is affected, so is their athletic life."
While visiting Wiesbaden High School, Charlie Toth, principal deputy director and associate director for education for the Department of Defense Education Activity, cited Hudson's work as exemplary.
Working closely with local teachers, administrators, counselors, students and other school staff, Hudson said having established a personal relationship was critical to the success of the program. "Without the entire faculty, administrators and support people in the school this program could not have happened," he said.
Around 15 student tutors assist in the effort, Hudson said, adding that finding young people who work well with their peers and are capable of maintaining a 3.0 or better grade point average while volunteering served as a benchmark. "I go out and canvas the school," Hudson said, pointing out the importance of finding individuals capable of juggling the many demands on their time such as athletics and other extracurricular programs while helping their fellow at-risk students in bettering their grades.
"Normally we'd like to tutor 75 kids or better," he said. "One of the goals is to tutor as many kids as possible during the seminar two or three times a week."
Hudson added that he would like to see other DoDDS-Europe schools adopt the peer tutoring program.
"This is our third school year. It's unique to Wiesbaden - no other school in DoDDS has this," he said. "What we really want to do is assist other schools to also introduce a program like this."
"Duria gets great personal satisfaction for his contribution to pointing kids in the right direction," said Witmer, "to take greater responsibility for their life and school accomplishment."
The Support Person of the Year also "provides an additional support for newly arriving students," Witmer said.
For more information about the Youth Services' peer tutoring program, call Wiesbaden Youth Services at mil 335-5145.