CORALVILLE — With a tight budget, Shante Morgan spent months looking for affordable tutoring options for her 11-year-old son Rickey Long.
She reached out to social services providers, Rickey’s school and private tutors. Everything she found, at first, seemed financially out-of-reach.
But when officials at Sylvan Learning were searching for a student deserving of a $1,100 scholarship, many of them remembered Morgan and chose to recognize her son with the award.
“We chose Rickey because his mom came in in January wanting and needing help for him, and from a financial perspective, she tried everything,” said Emily Smith, a Sylvan regional director based in Johnston. “We saw a need, desire and want from his mom.”
Morgan said she didn’t know the Leah Mauer Scholarship existed when she visited Sylvan looking for academic help for her son, who attends Lucas Elementary in the Iowa City district.
“I was just trying to get him to come here because he needed the help pretty badly,” she said.
The Leah Mauer Scholarship is named for a Wilton, Iowa, native and longtime Sylvan employee. After Mauer died at 42, her mother went on to establish a foundation in her memory to benefit underprivileged students, according to Sylvan.
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In the past, the scholarship has been awarded to Sylvan centers outside of Iowa, Smith said, but in coming years will be awarded only to Iowa centers. The centers then award the scholarship to a student.
Smith said Rickey’s own perseverance and work ethic helped earn him the award, in addition to his mother’s.
Sylvan students there receive personalized learning plans, said Ryan Thyer, the director of Sylvan’s Coralville center.
“It’s personalized to each child, so it’s working on what each child’s needs may be,” Thyer said. “ ... None of the kids knows what anyone else is doing. It’s a big confidence boost for kids.”
Rickey’s scholarship covers 23 hours of tutoring. Just a few sessions in, his mother said she’s already seen a change in Rickey — he looks forward to his afternoon lessons, she said, and has started volunteering more often to read aloud at school.
“I’m actually really proud of him,” Morgan said. “I’ve seen a change within a small amount time.”
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