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Outstanding Tutor Award Recipients Announced

Outstanding TutorsThe Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) in the Levin College of Public Affairs and Education is proud to announce the Outstanding Tutor Award recipients for the 2023-24 academic year.

OCE employs 75 dedicated Cleveland State University students as tutors as part of CPL America Reads and Viking Corps tutoring programs serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The tutors serve as role models and teacher assistants, helping with everything ranging from homework and test preparation to helping students understand assignments which might not be in their primary or first language.

This past academic year alone, the tutors combined to achieve 6,161 youth tutoring interactions while logging over 7,400 hours.

The tutors work at community-service learning partner locations, such as the Cleveland Metropolitan School District Davis Aerospace & Maritime High School, Teen Response (known as Re:Source Cleveland), the Cleveland Heights Library and 13 additional Cleveland Public Library branches including East 131st, Fleet, Fulton, Garden Valley, Hough, Memorial-Nottingham, Mount Pleasant (remote tutoring), Rice, Rockport, Sterling, South, West Park and Woodland.

This marks the 27th year of the Office of Civic Engagement and the Cleveland Public Library community engagement partnership, 16 of which have been under the leadership of OCE Director and Program Coordinator of Viking Corps, Anita Ruf-Young.

“I am so proud that each day in the Levin College of Public Affairs and Education's Office of Civic Engagement that I, along with program coordinator, Gabi Pridemore, are able to focus on CSU's anchor institution mission of civic engagement and on investing in the communities that surround our campus through these long-standing and impactful community service-learning partnerships with the Cleveland Public Library, CMSD, the Heights Library, the Northeast Ohio Boys & Girls Clubs and others,” she said. “Not only do these programs address youth literacy and academic achievement, but also demonstrate how we at CSU believe in utilizing our resources and skills to serve and engage our neighbors while our students benefit by developing their resumes, career ready skills for their future careers, and earning money to help fund their education/living expenses.”

Ruf-Young also added that the tutors enjoy the work so much that they continue to return year-after-year and relay in their evaluations that they feel invested in these meaningful jobs through the OCE.

“The students really develop or even enhance their cultural awareness,” she said. “Additionally, it equips them with the necessary skills to work in diverse communities.”

Sherri Jones is the Literacy and Education Coordinator at Cleveland Public Library. She says the work each tutor provides is second-to-none.

“The Viking Corps staff (Anita Ruf-Young and Gabi Pridemore) work tirelessly to recruit tutors, she said. “Without their services, many of our students would not receive one-on-one attention in subject areas where they are underperforming.” 

Jones added:

“Managing America Reads and Viking Corps CSU tutors can be a major hurdle for these large-scale programs where so many tutors are needed and we appreciate the academic support, mentorship and positive social-emotional connections the CSU tutors provide our students.”

Forrest Lykins, who serves as the branch manager of the West Park Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, agrees that having the tutors CSU provides is not only a major need, but their assistance has gone above and beyond.

“The tutors are so needed here [and] this program with CSU has brought in community members that would not otherwise come to the library,” he said. “In particular, the CSU students have assisted children of immigrant families facing language barriers that their parents cannot help them with.”

Each of the 17 community service-learning sites nominated seven tutors for an Outstanding Tutor award in recognition of their community service. They include:

“Diana goes out of her way to assist students during tutoring and beyond. She is an asset to our Arabic-speaking students and even supported one of our students who graduated in preparing and enrolling in her first semester of college. As an alumna of John Marshall, Diana has been an advocate for many students who need support talking to their teachers and counselors. Diana is consistently reliable and professional, while being a kind and compassionate tutor to the students.”

Nominated By: Sage Petrone, program coordinator, Re:Source Cleveland at John Marshall High School (formerly Teen Response)

“Isaiah is absolutely outstanding! He is excellent at communication, passionate about the kids and his work. You can tell he absolutely enjoys working with the kids and engaging with them. Sometimes he doesn’t even do homework with the kids, he’ll just play games or even listen. He makes the students feel heard which is so valuable. This is Isaiah’s second year here and we adore him. He is an excellent role model for The Rice Branch Campus’ patrons.”

Nominated By: Lexy Kmiecik, branch manager, Cleveland Public Library Rice Branch

“Nahid helps students and staff alike. She completes every job/task with professionalism and enthusiasm. Students love how she is able to explain things in a way they understand. Her positive attitude and ability to get any task completed in a timely manner and correctly make Nahid not just a tutor. She is also an integral part of our staff.”

Nominated By: Mara Marks, Model Lead Teacher Davis Aerospace & Maritime High School

“Brett is an excellent tutor. He is hardworking, attentive and works great with the kids. He is always available to help them with their homework or to play games when they do not have assignments, teaching many of the kids how to play chess. He is polite and respectful to everyone. Fleet is lucky to have such a terrific tutor at our site!”

Nominated By: Natalie Flamik, CPL Fleet Children’s Librarian

“Quinntai did a phenomenal job assisting students with their essays. He takes initiative to help students, approaching them, introducing himself and makes it easy for the students to understand his role. He is amazing, and we would like to have him in ELA9 again.”

Nominated By: Mara Marks, Model Lead Teacher, Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School Mara Marks

“Khalil is a dedicated tutor. He builds great relationships with the students, and they are excited to see him and greet him when he comes into the classroom. I believe Khalil made a great impact on a particular student who passed her Math OST last year. He spent many times in one-on-one sessions with her. He is thoughtful, kind and offers help wherever is needed.”

Nominated By: Louis Derban, Teacher, Davis Aerospace & Maritime High School

“Erica is a joy to have in the library. The kids adore her and ask about her when she is not around. Whether or not there is work to be done, Erica always interacts with the students as much as she can and offers to assist in the library. She has great skill with students of all ages. It is a pleasure to have a tutor who is so kind, friendly and helpful.”

Nominated By: Natalie Flamik, CPL Fleet Children’s Librarian

For more information on the Viking Corps, please visit