The Impact of One-on-One Tutoring

Educator Stephen Barnhart working one-on-one with scholars at Ascension Catholic School. 

As the school year progresses for our Teach for Christ Educators, we are beginning to see one of the program’s goals come to fruition. One-on-one tutoring and small group instruction provide a time for our educators to connect with students on a deeper level. These profound encounters have a lasting impact on educator and student alike, as both enter into a learning experience, built upon a relationship of trust and understanding.

“Working one-on-one with a child is a precious opportunity,” expressed Angelyn Von Rueden, a Teach for Christ Educator assigned to Ascension Catholic School in North Minneapolis.

“It allows me to provide students with individual attention, which in turn makes them feel more loved and supported. These interactions allow me to see and praise a child’s strengths, while also providing the environment to address that child’s needs.”

TC Educator Colby Cantillon works with high school students at Chesterton Academy in Edina, MN. Working with these students requires a more advanced, but equally caring approach.

“I often tutor during free periods. In this capacity, I help students find answers by providing them with leading questions. For more complex subjects, this involves analyzing student responses, and restating these responses back to the students in order to guide them to sound answers.”

Much research has been undertaken in the pursuit of knowing just how much of an impact these settings can have on students. For instance, one U.S. Department of Education study summarizing research on almost 100 volunteer tutoring programs concluded: “Students with below-average reading skills who are tutored by volunteers show significant gains in reading skills,” as well as more positive attitudes toward school.  Other studies on the part of private institutions back the U.S. Department of Education’s findings, like the Read 2 Me program’s comprehensive study into the effectiveness of one-on-one tutoring, which concludes that volunteer efforts like Teach for Christ not only improve student achievement for elementary school children, but also help to foster more positive attitudes toward learning.

 Further proof of the success of our one-on-one tutoring initiatives can be found from feedback provided by the teachers we serve.   

“[TC Educators] Betsy Peloquin and Luke Brunsvold work with students one-on-one as well as a small group of third graders on a daily basis” says Shannon Ward, 3rd & 4th Grade Teacher at St. John Paul II Catholic Preparatory School.

“I have heard and seen first hand, the progress that students have already made thanks to their efforts. There is a measurable difference in student progress as a result of their help.”  

We are excited to witness the results of what the TC Educators have been able to do, thanks to one-on-one teaching! Our Educators help their school communities differentiate instruction for learners with varying abilities. Their efforts are especially important in ensuring that students at risk of falling behind have an equal opportunity to learn and grow with their classmates. Let us ask the intercession of Blessed John Henry Newman, as this lay apostolate inspires a new generation of young scholars.    


Teach for Christ Invites Young Catholics to Serve in Catholic Schools

This article by Matthew Davis was originally featured on The Catholic Spirit here

Eight young adults will embark on a new ministry this fall at four Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Photo by: Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit

Photo by: Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit

Teach for Christ, a volunteer ministry that launched this year, offers the services of trained young adults to tutor students, assist teachers, coach and serve in support roles for a school year. The missionaries — known as “educators” — will serve this year at Ascension School and St. John Paul II Catholic Preparatory School in Minneapolis, St. Mark’s Catholic School in St. Paul and Chesterton Academy in Edina, where the program is based.

The program aims to have a spiritual and educational impact on its schools and educators, said Richard Vigilante, 60, Teach for Christ’s board chairman.

Vigilante, who previously served on Chesterton Academy’s board of directors, has had the vision in mind for years. He sought input from leaders in Catholic education around the archdiocese as he discerned how to form a ministry that could serve Catholic schools.

“We designed the program based on what we were told,” said Vigilante, a parishioner of St. Anne in Hamel and Holy Name of Jesus in Medina. “I’m a great admirer of ACE and Teach for America, but what we were told was ‘serve.’”

Both the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education and New York-based nonprofit Teach for America train people to serve as classroom teachers, which can lead to long-term careers in education. Teach for Christ trains people to work in education, but its educators don’t lead classrooms. Instead, they work as tutors or in areas outside the classroom, such as marketing.

Vigilante said the ministry is for any young adult, whether or not he or she’s considering education as a career. Requirements include being a college graduate with strong academic achievement, experience serving young people and a committed faith life.

This year’s Teach for Christ educators are from Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Vigilante and the staff received around 300 applications the first year.

“It was very gratifying,” Vigilante said about the interest.

Lucas Berke, 26, applied after working as a mission staff member for two years with NET Ministries in West St. Paul. He’s considering a teaching career.

“I was looking for options, and this one kind of came up,” said Berke, who has a degree in biology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Fellow educator Betsy Peloquin also has education in mind after completing degrees in literature and education this year at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida. A parishioner of St. Henry in Monticello, she returned to her home state for Teach for Christ.

“This year, I did not feel like I was ready for my own classroom,” Peloquin, 22, said. “I was really excited about this opportunity to be working in the classroom, working with students and working with professional teachers as well, so I can learn from them.”

Leaders from the schools who will host Teach for Christ educators look forward to the extra support. St. John Paul II Principal Edgar Alfonzo said it fills a “big need” at his school.

“Every year, we get five, six students with almost no English at all,” Alfonzo said. “One-on-one work with these teachers is going to really benefit them, because you can see that they progress faster when they receive adaptation, not only one-on-one but also in a small groups.”

Vigilante said he could see the program expanding beyond the four pilot schools to serve anywhere in the archdiocese and beyond. The Catholic Schools Center of Excellence assisted Teach for Christ in choosing schools “that already had a strong record in successfully using volunteers to enhance student achievement,” he said. Chesterton Academy was chosen because of the initial connections with Teach for Christ.

Living in community is also a central aspect for Teach for Christ educators, as they live in separate households in
St. Paul during their year of service. Men live with the Pro Ecclesia Sancta priests and brothers, who serve St. Mark, while the women live in a house leased by the ministry. Peloquin said the households have “a plan of life” that consist of community prayer, meals, service and mini retreats with Pro Ecclesia Sancta.

“Then we bring that out to the larger communities that we’re going to be a part of,” Berke said.

It ties into the Catholic witness they also hope to bring to their schools.

“If you are praying, and you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you can’t fail to witness him,” Berke said. “You’ll end up doing ministry whether you meant to or not.”

The households are also open to young and single Catholic teachers. Isabel Brown, a teacher at Chesterton Academy, serves as the house leader for the women.

Training began for the educators June 20 with a three-day silent retreat led by the Pro Ecclesia Sancta brothers. The order became involved through PES Father Adam Tokashiki’s connection to Chesterton Academy as the school’s chaplain.

Theresa Krueger, Chesterton Academy’s dean of women and a former headmaster and teacher in Arizona’s Great Hearts charter schools network, led the training. Educators worked with Holy Family Academy in St. Louis Park during its summer school program, offering individual tutoring for the students.

“It was just a shot in the arm. The students enjoyed having the one-on-one instruction and the youthful charisma of the TC people,” said Jim Grogan, Holy Family’s principal.

Educators haven’t worried about fundraising on top of training, since Teach for Christ doesn’t require it. Private donors fund the ministry, and the educators receive a small stipend for basic needs.

“We’re able to just say, ‘Here I am, put me to work,’” Peloquin said.

Summer Training Is Wrapping Up


We can hardly believe that our Educators have been in the Twin Cities for a month and are entering their last week of training! From the opening retreat to summer school at Holy Family Academy and ministry training with Pro Ecclesia Sancta, to workshops with IEW and A-List, TC Educators have had a packed schedule. 

Training and orientation was kicked off with a silent retreat led by Chaplain Fr. Adam Tokashiki, PES. The retreat was based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, one of our patron saints. Educator Stephen Barnhart commented that the retreat gave the Educators a "time to pray and reflect on our mission" which is to bring souls to Christ through education. "We can't be missionaries of the Gospel if we are not alive to the Gospel ourselves." 

The ministry training and the other modules has left Educator Lucas Berke "full of zeal to help the schools we work in. It really united our commitment to Christ and our commitment to the students we are going to be working with."

With the first day of school on the horizon, we ask that you keep all of the TC Educators in your prayers. 

Andrew Pudewa, Head of Institute for Excellence in Writing, To Personally Lead Two-Day Training Seminar for Teach for Christ Educators

Asking the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) to come in and instruct our Educators how to teach writing was a no-brainer from the first day we started putting together our training program. We know many teachers who have been through IEW training and sing its praises. We love IEW because its program teaches students how to write by teaching them how to read and how to think. Students taught the IEW way not only become better writers, but also learn skills that help them in all their studies and even later in professional life.


You can imagine then how thrilled we were to learn that the renowned Andrew Pudewa, who leads IEW, has given IEW presentations around the world, and has authored numerous books and training tools on how to teach writing, told his staff that he personally wants to teach the Teach for Christ team.  Andrew is a devout Catholic and evangelist, and a big fan of what we are doing. This past April he spent an entire day at Chesterton Academy in Edina MN-- where we have our headquarters and do our summer training--working with Headmaster Dave Beskar and the Chesterton Academy teachers. Now on August 14 and 15, Andrew will come back to train the Teach for Christ team.



First Teach for Christ Women’s Residence in St. Paul, MN

IMG_0409 2.JPG

Great news. We have established our first women’s house for Teach for Christ in St. Paul, MN. Our new home, christened Frassati House after one of our great patrons Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, is located in a handsome neighborhood amidst the campus of the University of St. Thomas. Our first women’s house can comfortably accommodate a household of four. It includes an up to date kitchen, great workspace, inviting common areas for guests and functions or just to relax, and a quiet room for community and individual prayer.

We love Blessed Pier Giorgio and named the House after him because he did so much so young. He created a lay community based on friendship in Christ, love of the outdoors, and service, particularly to the poor. He died when he was only 24 years of age, giving a great example to how much young people can do to change our world.