SAYMCA to Offer Virtual Tutoring

Sarah Mendonca knew early that educational leadership was her calling.

By the time she was 9-years-old, her neighborhood crew of friends knew it, too.

“It is hard wired in me,” Mendonca said. “When I was a kid, I had a chalkboard that I would drag into the driveway and try to get my neighbor friends to let me play teacher.”

Mendonca stayed the course, completing her PhD in educational leadership at the University of Florida. It’s her deep commitment to education that drove Mendonca to find educational solutions for families once schools switched to a virtual model.

“I had some experience with online education, and I was aware that there is a learning curve that goes with that,” Mendonca said. “Even for families that have the benefits of technological savvy, adequate devices, reliable Wi-Fi, educated parents – even when you have all of those things going for you – it’s still challenging to adjust.”

To help with the learning curve, Mendonca has been working with Mary Baldwin University, the Community Foundation of the Blue Ridge and the Staunton-Augusta Family YMCA on a virtual tutoring program.

Josh Cole, executive director at the Staunton-Augusta Family YMCA, embraced Mendonca’s vision with open arms.

“This is a very difficult time, and we hope we can make it a little better for our community by offering this resource,” Cole said. “We are obviously excited that we can provide support to area students during this very unique time. We are thrilled to be able to offer this program so that we can support these students.”

Volunteers will be the lifeblood of the tutoring program. Anyone wishing to tutor must complete a Staunton-Augusta Family YMCA volunteer form and a background check. Adults who are passionate about education with good Wi-Fi connections are encouraged to fill out the volunteer paperwork.

Mendonca knows the switch to virtual learning involves a learning curve.

“My ideal tutor is a retired teacher trained in education,” Mendonca said. “They have experience working with kids, and they will be familiar with grade-level expectations and curricular goals. When it comes to tutoring elementary school students, most people with college degrees can do that. I hear from educators that the highest need for tutoring is in math.”

The tutoring program fits right in the YMCA’s commitment to youth development and social responsibility. Cole hopes that many community members will sign up to support students.

“Of course, this will take the effort of many,” Cole said, “so we hope that people are interested in helping us with this new venture.”

Adults interested in tutoring and families interested in receiving virtual tutoring help should email

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