Wright State faculty member Jim Dunne received the Nuestra Familia 2016 Award from the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission for his work at El Puente Learning Center in Dayton.
Dunne, associate professor of teacher education in the College of Education and Human Services, was honored as a non-Hispanic individual who encourages the inclusion of Latinos in Ohio and is committed to making Dayton a welcoming place.
For the last seven years, Dunne has taught a graduate course in which each student tutors one to two children at El Puente Learning Center in Dayton.
What once started as a partnership has grown into a relationship between the College of Education and Human Services and El Puente. The program is a combined effort of Dayton Public Schools and the League of Latin American Citizens.
El Puente means “the bridge” and was started in 2008 by Tony Ortiz, associate vice president of Latino affairs at Wright State. Ortiz nominated Dunne for the award.
Children who receive tutoring at El Puente range from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. Approximately 190 Latino students who have received tutoring while about 160 Wright State student have volunteered as tutors at El Puente since the center opened.
“It’s engineered to be a practical teaching experience,” Dunne said. “It’s a good way for students to figure out how to teach better.”
Dunne’s graduate students create lesson plans, objectives and case studies while evaluating their students’ performance. The graduate students may need to alter their teaching strategies to better accommodate their students’ learning needs. The tutors create specific objectives such as setting each student’s reading fluency.
While most El Puente students speak fluent English, some struggle to learn to read in this second language, and many of their parents do not speak fluently in English.
“Teachers today will work with students from a variety of diverse backgrounds,” Dunne said. “So students in my course receive valuable experience that will help them when they’re teachers. This is a wonderful experience.”
“I didn’t think I would win an award. I didn’t regard myself as award-worthy, but doing my job,” he said. “But it is good, good work, and I’m pleased. I’m honored to be with folks who have done incredible things.”