Bound Together tutoring program caters to 'at risk' Oakland County students

Tutors cite importance of creating consistent tutor-student relationship

PONTIAC, Mich. – Several parishioners from All Saints Church in Pontiac saw a need for tutoring at a local elementary school 21 years ago.

"When they went over there, the need was great, but they also knew the kids were hungry, so they thought, 'OK, we have a big old building. We will just bring the kids over here. We’ll feed them. We'll work on their academic skills,'" said Jane Porter, executive director of Bound Together.

The tradition continues today. Tutoring program Bound Together meets three days a week and caters to "at risk" students in Oakland County in first through sixth grades. There are 65 volunteer tutors. Some are retired teachers, some are aspiring teachers and some just want to help.

"People are invested in helping kids. You know, you give an hour once a week and you see a big difference in a child," Porter said.

Tutors like Chris Northcross see the importance of creating a consistent tutor-student relationship.

"Looking at that child and seeing, 'Oh, OK. Maybe he likes math more than he likes reading.' Well, let's figure out how we can try to get math into the reading and get sort of that holistic approach. Find out what they want and going with it is what works," Northcross said.

"I also imagine for a lot of these kids, they don’t ever get that much time with a teacher alone," Mitch Albom said.

"For a lot of our tutors, I think that is also what they see," Northcross said.

"Which is good, because (for) some of the kids, (it's important to have) just someone to have a dialogue with them, and from that the trust grows and they’re happy to do work. It’s really such a stable environment for them," Porter said.

Carrying on a tradition, Bound Together is creating a world of learning in the heart of Detroit.