The Hmong Teen Tutor program uses the intelligence, caring and energy of successful Hmong teens to tutor the next generation of Hmong children living in public housing in St. Paul’s North End. Hmong children were already finding purpose, community and identity within the Hmong Youth and Family Program, gathering across generations to cook, garden, and build skills in traditional Hmong dance and craft. Parents knew that their kids needed more: to get help to succeed in school, the key to success in American life. Their request for tutoring, plus the ingenuity of Keystone staff working together, built the Hmong Teen Tutor program. It’s been going strong three years now, enrolls 40 children in grades K-5, and is posting excellent results in literacy and school grades for Hmong children.
Reading instructors for Hmong children should really be fluent in both Hmong and English. Local Hmong teens who have grown up in the Hmong Youth and Family Program understand the cultural norms and home life of participants which enables them to serve as both academic tutors and culturally responsive mentors. They also bring personal experience of the specific challenges that Hmong children from immigrant/refugee families encounter when learning to read in English. We choose teens who are proficient in both English and their home language and have maintained at least a B average during the past school year. The teen tutor program takes advantage of a major asset possessed by teens - bilingual fluency and cultural competency – and leverages it into a meaningful, empowering and highly productive first job.
Our Teen Tutor model values the bilingual fluency and school success of local teens and reinforces their competency and capability. Each tutor is paid ($9.00/hour) and engages in a 200+ hour tutoring "apprenticeship" experience consisting of employment readiness training and certification in the evidence-based Winsor Learning Sonday System literacy curriculum for bilingual leaners and the Second Step social-emotional learning curriculum. Teen Tutors work one-on-one or with small groups of children to teach literacy and social-emotional skills, assist with homework, and conduct progress assessments. Hmong teens build high-level work skills and credentials, earn much-needed money to support their families and their future educational and career aspirations, and use their cultural competency to teach and mentor the next generation of Hmong children toward educational success. The Hmong Teen Tutor program is giving Hmong children in grades K-5 a strong sense of purpose and motivation to succeed in school, while taking pride in their Hmong identity and the capacity of their own community to help them succeed.