An Introduction to Slug Tutoring for Farmworker Families

by Diane Flores,  Center for Farmworker Families Admin Assistant/Slug Tutoring Coordinator

The Slug Tutoring Program:

Slug Tutoring is the free in home tutoring project developed and coordinated by Center for Farmworker Families administrator assistants and UCSC students Julio Molina and Diane Flores. Named after the beloved Banana Slug mascot of the University of California, Santa Cruz, volunteer student tutors from UCSC travel to Watsonville to tutor children and students of Farmworker Families. In hopes to create educational outreach to Farmworker Family communities, this project was created and launched during the Spring of 2016 with 10 Volunteer UCSC students who actively took part of the program, each of which had a child to tutor weekly. Slug Tutoring aimed to provide free tutoring to children grades K-12 in subjects like Language Arts, English, Spanish, Math, Science and Test Preparation at no cost to Farmworker Families. Tutoring sessions took place in home on Saturdays between noon and 3pm for an hour per student. Tutoring is entirely individualized to the students needs and request, not only does Slug tutoring provide educational resources to these children but the tutors themselves provide mentoring and a role model figure for children of Farmworker Families to continue to pursue education in the future.  

The Success:

Despite it being a new program, Slug Tutoring has become popular amongst Farmworker Families and has steadily grown within the communities. However, the start of this program had not always been so smooth. Challenges faced by developing a program from the bottom up included, finding dedicated volunteers, researching communities that needed this resource, and most importantly bringing families on board with the program. Initially, Slug tutoring was to take place on Saturdays at the Watsonville Public Library, it immediately became apparent that the disparities Farmworker Families face like transportation and work conflicts became barriers in acquiring enough children to tutor. Changes needed to be made, instead of the students traveling to the tutors, the tutors began traveling to the students, and so Slug Tutoring evolved to become an in home tutoring program. This change created an instant positive response for the program because with the conveniency of meeting in home, more and more parents of Farmworker Families took great interest and were willing to welcome tutors into their homes. Along with a positive response from the community, the interest in becoming a Slug Tutor also was also prominent. Previous Slug Tutors have already agreed in returning come the 2016-2017 school year along with a greater demand for tutor positions by new volunteers eager to help tutor children of Farmworker Families.

The impact:

One of the impacts that Slug Tutoring created was to target and provide more individualized basis of tutoring in Farmworker Family communities where tutoring resources had been restricted. For example, in one of the Farmworker Family communities, tutoring had been previously provided and restricted only to elementary aged children, those children that qualified for tutoring were then placed in a tutoring program where the ratio of student to tutor was unbalanced. With Slug Tutoring although, tutors were able to attend to children of this community in home on a one to one ratio, as well as allowing expansion to provide free tutoring to middle school and high school aged children who did not qualify for free tutoring prior within that community. Another impact that Slug Tutoring has done is to close the gap between language barriers and access to education amongst Farmworker Families. Many Farmworker Families come from backgrounds where, Spanish is their native language and is only spoken in home, private tutoring is not a financially affordable option, and where lack of prior education in their home countries prevent parents from helping their students with their academics. Slug Tutoring has assisted in overcoming these barriers. Bilingual Slug Tutors are able to effectively and properly communicate to teach the academic material across the language barrier and more importantly, because the program is free and in home, financial and traveling barriers are eliminated for the parents.

Deeper connections to why this program is needed/wanted:

At a deeper level this program is needed within the Farmworker Family community because it has formed deep connections within the community. The University Slug Tutors students feel connected through their ability to outreach to surrounding communities outside Santa Cruz and give back to Watsonville Farmworker Family communities through education. Students of Farmworker Families gain a sense of connection to their tutors on a personal level and built relationships through education. Most importantly tutoring to Farmworker Family communities instill the thought of a brighter future in higher educational goals for children of Farmworker Families like graduating high school and college. Also, future plans by Slug Tutoring include expansion of educational services to parents of Farmworker Families through workshops like, English Learning, Know Your Rights, and Technology/Social Media. In disadvantaged Farmworker Family communities where less than 10% of children are likely to graduate High School, educational resources are the most valuable form of breaking barriers and future success of these Farmworker Families. By providing Slug Tutoring to Farmworker Families via tutoring and workshops, the family as a whole can progressively move forward with confidence to overcome barriers.

How You Can help:

  • Monetary Donations.  This helps us make sure we have enough money for providing the tutors some compensation for their time.  If you would like to make a donation, you can donate here.
  • Become a Tutor.  If you are interested in learning more or wanting to become a tutor, please fill out our interest form.

  • If you are a parent.  If you are a parent who is interested in providing this program for your family or community, please fill out our interest form.