College starts in kindergarten

Since 1991 an official collaboration between Hamline University and Hamline Elementary has been paving the way for students.


Chloe McElmury

Tutor Alexis White and student Savatia Vang share a laugh during class.

Sophia Pavek, Reporter

Hamline University and Hamline Elementary have a connection that goes deeper than just a simple tutoring job- the students of the elementary form lasting bonds with students of Hamline University. Each grade has a corresponding academic or athletic department at Hamline and all the older grades  take swim lessons on campus. The elementary students are often seen on campus. Inversely , with nearly 200 students acting as tutors and volunteers, rarely is Hamline Elementary void of a college student in its halls.

“We have around 200 students working with us,” junior Morgan Fox,  lead tutor of the Hamline to Hamline connection, explained. She started as a tutor during her first year and is majoring in  elementary education. “It’s a really powerful connection… education students get the hands on work… however, I’d say over half our tutors aren’t education students. They’re just people who love working with kids.”

Student tutors voiced their love for the children and the importance of what they were doing.

“I love tutoring at the elementary school because the kids are amazing,” Student Tutor, first-year Christi Cunnigham, explained in an email interview. “I work with first and second graders and they are one of my favorite parts of every day. This connection is really good for them. These kids get to see an adult who is furthering his or her education, but that also cares about helping the kids further theirs. I know I am helping these kids by giving them a role model, but these kids help me too. They make me smile and laugh, but they also help me work on my patience and sometimes, when I don’t feel like getting out of bed, they are my reason. Because the work I am doing with them matters.”

Teachers like Kathleen Walsh, who have been teaching since 1990,  recognized  the importance of tutors to their curriculum.

“I couldn’t do my lessons the way I do them without the tutors,” Walsh said. “It’s not the easiest job, but it’s so, so important to the teachers and the kids. We really need our tutors.”

Another connection that Hamline to Hamline provides in Hand in Hand, which is a mentorship based on volunteering. This is a one day a week commitment that a university student makes to spending an hour with a student at Hamline.

“It’s a strong connection, like a mentorship, that provides a rock for our students,” Fox said. “Tutoring gives them an academic advantage of one on one study… we are one of the only programs like this in [the] nation… So it’s pretty cool.”

Hamline also started a new program this year called ‘Math Connections’, which was suggested by a professor on campus. It’s a program providing challenging math, such as  coding and brain teasers that meets twice a week and is run by Hamline Students.

“It’s more of an abstract thinking program,” Fox said. “It’s gives the students a chance to round out their education that can’t always been done in the classroom.”

The Snelling Connection is another  tie  between our campuses;  it’s a newspaper published twice a year that is ran by two University Students, but written by Elementary Students.

“It’s a really cool opportunity,” Fox mentioned. “Allowing students to really grow, and giving university students a great chance for hands on work… This connection is beneficial in so many ways, helping Hamline students build resumes and experience and allowing the elementary kids one on one work that wouldn’t be possible without their tutors.” Fox finished by adding, “This connection is a part of our community, neither campus is ever without one another and it’s a beautiful, powerful thing.”