The Rio Rancho Rotary Club has an education program called the Dick Hillier Tutoring program. Named after a Rotarian who started the program but has passed away. The program pays teachers a small stipend to remain after school, two hours a week for 15 weeks to provide assistance in reading to 5 or 6 of their own students. Rotary Club Director Earl Waid discussed the program and why it’s so important to the community.
The Rotary Club of Rio Rancho has been involved with the tutoring of students since 2010. It began with first through third grades and now grades kindergarten through fifth grades are included. Dick Hillier, a 30-year Rotarian, was the principal driver of this program and was responsible for growing the program from one school to four Rio Rancho elementary schools. Dick passed away in 2015 and because of his passion for the program, the Rotary Club named the tutoring program in his honor.
The Dick Hillier Tutoring Program recognizes that certain students fall into a category not currently supported by any special state or federal program. These students are close to achieving grade-level performance but will benefit from additional help. The Dick Hillier Tutoring Program pays teachers a small stipend to participate. This program allows participating teachers to have a maximum of six students from their own class. These students will be tutored before or after the instructional day to help them reach proficiency.
This program has received positive reviews from educators, parents, and students. Not only have the tutored students increased their reading skills, but they have also improved in other areas as well. They showed increased confidence and began to participate in class discussions and in some cases started helping other students with the class activities. The teachers have said that the program has made the students’ classroom experience better.
Currently, there are six Rio Rancho Elementary schools with twenty teachers who each have five to six students participating in the program. Our goal is to expand even further. The eventual goal is to include all elementary schools in Rio Rancho and to reach out to schools within Sandoval County. These students will advance to the next grade with a firm grasp of reading. It is anticipated that with these strong academic roots, the students will thrive as they progress through their educational experience.