Bakersfield College hosts so many amazing large-scale programs that it’s easy for smaller ones to get lost in the shuffle. As the first manager of an academic support program called Supplemental Instruction, or SI for short, I have come to know its particulars rather well in the five years since its inception. And I have come to believe in it, not just as a job I do every day, but as a personal mission and an integral part of who I am and the values I hold dear.

What makes SI so transformational at Bakersfield College? A brief introduction to our model, which a graduate student at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, developed in the early 1970s, is necessary at this point. In essence, SI is tutoring with two key distinctions: 1. the tutors, called SI Leaders, attend the course along with the students they are helping and 2. the tutoring sessions are group based, comprised of students invited from the course to attend. Of course, to be SI Leaders, students must be recommended by the professor whose class they will attend, and the student must have earned an A or B in the course.

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