Portraits of two people, a man in a suit on the left and a women in a suit on the left.

Hundreds of UA Students Tutoring with Local Schools

Portraits of two people, a man in a suit on the left and a women in a suit on the left.
Along with hundreds of UA students, Mark Conlee and Abby Greenwell are tutoring school children virtually.

Despite The University of Alabama transitioning to remote instruction and limiting operations on campus, student Abby Greenwell continues her passion of tutoring grade school students in the Tuscaloosa area.

The UA accounting graduate and current graduate student is one of hundreds of students donating their time as part of Culverhouse LIFT Program’s partnership with Birmingham City Schools and the Tuscaloosa County School System. UA students are providing free online tutoring and academic engagement sessions for the remainder of the school year.

“Hearing about this new way I could serve students in the Tuscaloosa community lifted my spirits tremendously,” said Greenwell, from Killen, Alabama. “It has actually given me much hope and a sense of purpose in this unpredictable and chaotic time.”

For Birmingham schools, UA students, along with a representative from the school system, will conduct videoconferencing or telephone calls. In Tuscaloosa, UA students created a series of video tutorials on YouTube designed for students at Holt Elementary.

The LIFT Program provides tutoring through student volunteers to schools in the region, and more than 200 students are assisting in transitioning to remote tutoring now that UA and schools have closed campuses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Lisa McKinney, director of the Culverhouse LIFT Program and leading the tutoring effort at UA.

“We recognize the unique challenges the Alabama public school system faces at this time and understand the challenges of many public school students,” she said. “We see it as our responsibility and our pleasure to assist with these challenges.”

Greenwell has tutored through LIFT since her sophomore year at UA, developing a nine-week financial literacy and career development curriculum for student at Holt High School.

“I have spent countless hours at Holt High School this past year, so I was very excited to hear from McKinney that she could utilize me for this project, serving the same community,” she said.

The response by UA students to volunteer as tutors has been phenomenal, said Mark Conlee, a junior from Memphis, Tennessee studying accounting and finance. Conlee has been recruiting students the past few weeks, reaching out across campus from Honors College to Greek organizations.

“A strong number of people are willing to be part of this initiative to reach out to local students in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham to help bridge the gap in some of the learning opportunities they have during this time,” he said.

Conlee has coordinated the Literacy LIFT Labs in Tuscaloosa County where UA students help elementary students with reading. He wanted to be involved with this virtual tutoring because students may be falling behind in strengthening their reading while they are not at school during the pandemic.

“Our goal is for Capstone students to spend their time and resources to help get kids to the next stage,” Conlee said. “We want to come alongside them during this time of uncertainty and help them move to the next step, using our resources to provide as much as possible when they may not be getting as much face-to-face instruction right now.”