New teachers donate time to help students raise grades, improve self esteem

City Year is in five Orange County schools including elementary, middle schools

By Erik von Ancken - Anchor/Reporter

Sometimes when a teacher talks a student is listening but not hearing, and that means they're not learning.

Oiseal Nunez had that problem a lot. The answer for him-- Mike Fusco.

Nunez is a 9th grader at Oak Ridge High School and Fusco is a tutor here, but not just any tutor. Fusco is a City Year Corps member.

The name City Year essentially explains what the group is and what he does.

After college, Fusco is now volunteering one year of his life at a city school before he goes in to teaching full time.

"I saw all these students slipping through the cracks and it solidified it wasn't really right for me and as a teacher you can't reach every single student, and I was really bummed out about that," said Fusco.

City Year Corps members work with teachers to figure out which kids need one on one help.

At Oakridge High School there are ten corps members, who each have about ten students to help.

But they are also available in the classroom for anyone to ask for help.  They also have their own office at the school, so any student can seek them out.

City Year is in five Orange County schools including elementary and middle schools.

At Oakridge High they specifically target 9th graders.

"Ninth grade is really the make or break year. For many students if we can get ‘em through the 9th grade year so they have a successful 9th grade, establish positive patterns then their likelihood of success increases dramatically," said Oakridge Assistant Principal Osvaldo Piedra.

Nunez was slipping through the cracks last year at Walker Middle School where he met Fusco.

"I was getting low D's, sometimes C's, but I think I had an F too," said Nunez.

Fusco says Nunez was just off track so they spent an hour a day together, for months, Fusco teaching Nunez how to hear his teachers. In the end, he has helped not just with school, but also with life.

"He would doubt himself, he would raise his hand and I would come over and he would say, ‘Am I doing this right?' And I would say, ‘You have it!' And he would say, ‘I was just testing you, just testing you Mr. Mike' and I was like alright," said Fusco.

This year they've both moved on to Oakridge High School and Nunez no longer needs that one-on-one tutoring.

"I had straight A's by my third semester in all my classes," said Nunez excitedly.

Nunez says he now wants to go to college and make his mom proud.

Click Here for more information on the City Year and how to bring the program to your child's school.

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