Teen Tutor, First-Grader Both Benefit From Unique Relationship

Meet Chris Rice, 18, tutor for a first-grade student who sometimes needs help following directions.

Rice reports daily to Trent Elementary School, where he works with a boy in Sheryl Henry’s combined first-second grade class. The sessions last about an hour, and most of what Rice does for Christian Cummins is simply to restate his teacher’s directions in simple pieces.

The rest of the school day, Rice studies at East Valley School District’s alternative school, the Success Academy.

To hear Rice reel off the ups and downs of his teen years and his school career, you wouldn’t necessarily pick him out as tutor material. He left home a few years ago, doesn’t have top grades. Plus, Rice is legally blind. Although he’s a senior by age, he’s several credits away from graduation.

But the tutoring arrangement offers something to each. Rice has unexpected responsibility. Christian has a mentor.

“Just know that Christian helps Chris as much as Chris helps Christian,” Henry said.

The two sat together one sweltering afternoon this week, Rice nudging Christian to work on his math. The problem involved frogs and dragonflies. The instructions included drawing a picture of six frogs eating their fill of dragonflies.

“You gotta finish this frog, buddy,” Rice urged quietly.

To an observer, Christian looked like any other student in the class. His attention wandered at times; he concentrated fiercely at times.

He finished drawing all his frogs, signed his name and turned down Rice’s offer of a co-signature.

“I’m good with kids,” Rice said. A school psychologist who had picked up on that talent suggested the unorthodox pairing. Rice has patience and the sense of how to coax, when to push, when not to, Henry said. Christian’s behavior has steadily improved in the months Rice has been tutoring him, the teacher said.

Rice is unsure what career he’ll pursue. Perhaps teaching, but his sight limitations make academics tough.

“Even with all my books on tape, it’s difficult for me,” the teen said.

Frustrations and all, Rice enjoys his work with Christian.

“He’s a joy. And he’s smart, really smart.”

Spoken like a teacher.

WV’s Williams wins another

West Valley High School senior Grace Williams won second place and a $10,000 scholarship at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium earlier this month.

Williams has won numerous awards for her research on domesticating the wildflower Indian paintbrush. The competition was held at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

Building and breaking bridges

Brandon Asbury, ninth-grader at Valley Christian School, placed ninth last weekend in the International Bridge Breaking Contest in Chicago.

Asbury competed in a field of 65 entries at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Nationals, here we come

Lisa Richardson and Matt Wahl, both seniors at Central Valley High School, have qualified for national competition in the Future Business Leaders of America.

The national conference is to be held in Anaheim, Calif., June 28-July 3.

At state competition in April, Richardson placed second in word processing and third in keyboarding. Wahl placed second in computer applications.

Other Central Valley students placing at state FBLA competition were Joey Clarizio, Dan Greiner, Frances Monigold, Darah Poffenroth, Alaisha Freimuth, Tara LaShaw, Justin Johnson, Wade Hinshaw, Aurelie Trier and Angela Rinck.

Math is Cool winners

A team from Centennial Middle School placed second recently in the Seventh Grade Math is Cool Championship. Members were Heidi Decker, Cody Dompier, Erin Winsper and A.T. Johnson, who also placed fifth in individual overall competition.

The Math is Cool event is sponsored by Washington Trust Bank and took place at Lewis and Clark High School.

Emphasis on safety

In the Freeman School District, three students have won the School Bus Safety Poster Contest.

Second-grader Patrick Runkle, sixth-grader Maegan James, and seventh-grader Kim Nelson each will have their posters go on to state competition.

This year’s contest theme was “Signal for Safety.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: If you have news about an interesting program or activity at a Valley school or about the achievements of Valley students, teachers or school staff, please let us know at the Valley Voice, 13208 E. Sprague, Spokane, WA 99216. Call: 927-2166. Fax: 927-2175.

If you have news about an interesting program or activity at a Valley school or about the achievements of Valley students, teachers or school staff, please let us know at the Valley Voice, 13208 E. Sprague, Spokane, WA 99216. Call: 927-2166. Fax: 927-2175.

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