Mentors needed for Southwest Austin schools

Austin Partners In Education volunteers help prepare students in under-resourced communities to be college- and career-ready. Locally the nonprofit has worked with students at Austin ISD schools including Crockett and Akins high schools as well as Covington Middle School.

APIE launched its 2013–14 programs in early October and is seeking volunteers to help teach reading and math classes to students, Executive Director Cathy Jones said.

At Covington, about 170 students will participate in APIE programs in 2013–14, Principal Candace Hughs said.

She said that a large percentage of Covington’s student population is economically disadvantaged. However, Covington is not considered part of Title I, a federal program that provides financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high numbers or percentages of children from low-income families. Therefore, Covington does not get more funds to supplement its programs, Hughs said.

“When we get an opportunity for somebody like APIE to come in and help us out, it means the absolute world to us because we are constantly needing additional help and support,” she said.

Hunter Willey, who teaches eighth-grade math at Covington, said he has seen academic and attitude improvements since APIE programs were first offered in his classroom last year.

“It really just helps the kids understand that what we’re doing and what we’re learning does carry on beyond these classrooms,” he said, explaining that when students meet volunteers who use math concepts in their profession, they can see the real-world value. APIE draws volunteers from organizations including AMD and IBM.

In under-resourced communities, sometimes children have fewer positive role models, Jones said. APIE gives students the opportunity to meet regularly with a caring adult who is making time to listen to them, she said.

APIE’s mentoring program, for example, does not have a set curriculum, but volunteers instead meet with students on a regular basis and simply have conversations.

“To talk and to listen in a one-on-one situation is a very important thing for the student to experience,” Jones said.

Southwest Austin schools helped by APIE programs:

  • Akins High School
  • Covington Middle School
  • Crockett High School
  • Odom Elementary School*
  • St. Elmo Elementary School*

*Title I schools

In addition, APIE supports all AISD schools through its mentoring program, background checks for volunteers and Adopt-a-School partnership coordination. Through APIE’s online Partner Portal, schools can post requests for supplies they need in their classrooms.

How to volunteer

Classroom coaches: During the school day, volunteers break into groups and instruct class, but the teacher remains in the classroom. Volunteers are matched with three or fewer students who work once a week for 45 minutes on high-engagement activities in reading or math.

Step Up: Volunteers work with middle-school students who need additional support in reading or math. A team of volunteers meets with students three times per week to help them learn and close achievement gaps.

Mentoring: Volunteers talk one-on-one with Austin students during the school day about subjects of the students’ choosing to discuss things that are important to them.

Members of the community can search for volunteer opportunities by school at

Source: Austin Partners In Education

Serving local students

  • 3,376 students served
  • 100 classrooms supported with weekly APIE volunteers
  • 716 mentors matched with students
  • 4,342 volunteers screened and referred to AISD schools
  • 243 high school seniors tutored to achieve college readiness
  • 973 classroom coaches provided weekly support in reading or math

Source: Austin Partners In Education 2012 data

Austin Partners In Education, 1601 Rio Grande St., Ste. 300A, 512-637-0900,


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