CHADRON – The Nebraska State College System (NSCS) has launched a rural tutoring program with teacher education candidates from Chadron, Peru, and Wayne Colleges, tutoring K-12 students in Educational Service Units 1, 4, and 13. Nebraska Success Made Accessible through Rural Tutoring (SMART) is a free, online tutoring program funded by a Nebraska Department of Education grant awarded to the NSCS.

Nebraska SMART Video contains more information for interested families. Parents who wish to gain access to tutoring must register their child at www.nscs.edu/NebraskaSMART. The Parent Guide provides steps for services such as registering a child, scheduling a tutoring session, and requesting on-demand tutoring.

Scheduled tutoring sessions can be 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes. When a student joins the on-demand queue, the next tutor available in their subject and grade specialty will connect with them.

The NSCS surveyed elementary, middle school, and high school teachers and principals, as well as superintendents in the three ESUs to determine the greatest areas of need. The survey results showed that Math is the highest need, English is second, followed by Science, and Social Studies, according to Julie Dickerson, Director of Nebraska SMART.

The tutoring service can be accessed via a laptop, desktop, or Chromebook. Smartphones Some tablets are not currently supported technology requirements.

The two-year grant supports up to 10 tutors and a faculty coordinator who serves as the liaison on each campus. Their duties include hiring, supervising, and mentoring tutors; coordinating with Human Resources, IT, and facilities; and managing the laptops, tablets, and headsets purchased with grant funds. Associate Professor of Education, Dr. Robin Brierly, is the CSC Coordinator.

Tutors from the three state colleges work together as a single tutoring network for Nebraska SMART, according to Dickerson. CSC’s tutors are available Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

During a training session on the CSC campus, Dickerson advised the tutors to avoid overextending themselves.

“We want the tutors to maintain a good balance between work, studying, and social life,” Dickerson said.

As with any pilot program, there are plenty of unknowns. Dickerson, an experienced online tutor, shared her knowledge with CSC tutors.

Dickerson advised the tutors of the difficulties in planning for on-demand tutoring.

“You don't know what the students already know or what they're struggling with. Do what you can for the student in the time you have. As you develop a tutoring relationship with them, you will be more aware of what they need and know their strengths and weaknesses.”

To be eligible to apply as a tutor, CSC students must have completed a criminal background check and be admitted into the Teacher Education program, which includes the completion of the following courses: Introduction to Teaching (EDUC 131), Educational Psychology (PSYC 231), Introduction to the Exceptional Learner (SPED 230), and Technology Resources for Learning (EDUC 224).

Benson writes for rodeo publications

CHADRON – Chadron State College student BreAnne Benson of West Fargo, North Dakota, has written freelance articles for several regional rodeo publications. She will graduate in May with a Communication Arts degree with an emphasis in journalism and media production. She transferred to CSC from Valley City State University in North Dakota when she decided to change majors from music to journalism.

“On a whim, I decided I didn't want to be in a school building the rest of my life, so I changed majors, and transferred within a week. I had never visited CSC before and didn't know anything about this area, but sometimes things just kind of fall into your lap perfectly, and it did,” she said.

“Mike Kennedy was amazing. He was a really tough teacher. But the reviews I have gotten from my editors said I was able to hit the ground running and that was largely because of him,” Benson said.

She said media production courses with Julian Berrian have also been helpful.

“He's trying to help the rodeo team and put together videos for us. I'm excited CSC added that program,” Benson said.

Benson’s writing experience started with Tri-State Livestock News in April 2023. Kaycee Monnens Cortner, a graduate of Chadron State and former rodeo team member, reached out to Benson and told her that being a freelance writer for the publication was a great gig.

“So, I started writing about rodeo profiles and different horse-related topics. It's kind of grown from there. After my first month or two of writing for Tri-State, Siri Stevens from Rodeo News reached out to me and offered me a freelance position,” Benson said.

Benson, who also wrote for the Eagle student newspaper, has written for Tri-State’s sister magazines including the Fence Post and Homeland. She also wrote an article for the Stallion Showcase magazine and wrote the rodeo preview for the Northern International Livestock Exposition magazine.

Benson remains active with the rodeo team and currently competes in breakaway roping and barrels. In her first year at CSC, she also competed in team roping.

She also takes videos and photographs for the rodeo team and manages the team’s social media. Outside of CSC, she is building a media business in the western industry, focusing on equine sessions and events.

“My dad is a horse trainer and we run a boarding facility. I went through junior high and high school rodeo doing barrels, poles, goat tying, team roping, breakaway, and reined cowhorse.”

Benson finished 15th in the average in reined cowhorse at the National High School Rodeo Finals in 2020. She was also the 2019 North Dakota state champion in reined cowhorse, and the 2020 Reserve State Champion in reined cowhorse.

“Reined cowhorse is very intense, so I kind of fell in love with that and I've been working for a couple of trainers the past two summers in Kansas. That was also on a whim. My friend’s boss needed help showing a couple of stud horses at the stock show in Rapid City. That turned into a job opportunity and worked out well,” Benson said.