LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Sitting on a large pillow inside a Cochran Elementary School classroom, fourth-grader Aleah Brooks holds a math paper as she awaits the arrival of her buddy, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Louisville.
The moment David Castleman walks into the room, Aleah's face lights up and within minutes, the two are sitting side-by-side, going over multiplication facts and talking about what the other did over the weekend.
“I needed a little help with math,” said Aleah, 9. “Sometimes I don't get enough time to interact with my mom on my multiplication facts and when David comes, I get to work with him and he really helps me.”
Aleah is one of nearly 70 students at Cochran who have been paired with students from the University of Louisville as part of the Cardinal Club – a joint effort to help boost student achievement through tutoring and mentoring.
It started three years ago when Cochran's principal, Tim Foster, reached out to his college fraternity – Pi Kappa Alpha – for help with tutoring. What began as partnership between the school and the fraternity has grown to include sororities and student athletes from U of L.
Each day from 11 a.m. until noon, U of L students come to Cochran, located on West Gaulbert Avenue –just a few blocks from campus – and tutor students in a range of subjects.
“It's an amazing opportunity for our kids,” said Leigh Huber, the assistant principal at Cochran. “The U of L students will walk over each day and work with their buddy on something they are struggling with – it might be something as simple as studying spelling words or math facts. They really help our kids in a variety of ways.”
Castleman, who is at Cochran twice a week and works with another student besides Aleah, said he really enjoys being able to help out.
“I thought it was a good way to get involved,” he said. “We work on math and reading a lot. Whatever they have trouble with, we sit down and help them out in any way that we can.
“I love coming here, interacting with them – having a conversation, getting to know them and seeing what they dream to be when they grow up,” Castleman said. “It means a lot to me.”
Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.