Empathy, Outreach lead to National Tutor of the Year

January 3, 2022 | San Diego Community College District

Mesa College student Raine Porter is the newest recipient of the College Reading and Learning Association’s (CRLA) 2021 Outstanding Tutor Award. 

Raine Porter
Raine Porter

The award, established in 1995 by CRLA’s International Tutor Training Program Certification (ITTPC) committee which reviews more than 1,200 certified programs, is given annually to one undergraduate tutor who contributes to the academic success of peers. CRLA felt that Porter was a, “true representative of what an outstanding tutor should be,” motivating and inspiring others through her passion and dedication to her work.

In her winning application, Porter wrote about transitioning to remote learning and how the pandemic impacted her approach to online tutoring. She explained, “The idea of ‘meeting the student where they are’— and indicating that we understand what they are feeling — facilitated my ability to connect with students despite being in an online space.”

Porter credits the Mesa Tutoring and Computing Center (MT2C) with helping her adjust to online tutoring. MT2C serves thousands of students each year, and staff put time and effort into training tutors like Porter to meet the diverse and changing needs of her peers. 

“The training sessions that impacted me most were the ones centered around empathy and student outreach. These two aspects helped me discern when students’ frustrations were related to educational content or having to learn in a new online environment,” Porter noted. 

Above all, Porter sought to form compassionate relationships with the students she tutored in order to inspire their persistence and sense of belonging. “I found that students are more open to seeking assistance when they form interpersonal connections,” she said.

Porter has been a tutor at Mesa College for just over two years. A native of Okinawa, Japan, her family moved to San Diego when her father was stationed here as a Marine. Upon enrolling at Mesa College, she would go to the STEM Center to study and, ultimately, she remembers feeling compelled to assist other students with their schoolwork. 

According to her supervisors, Porter is the embodiment of the ideal tutor because she has improved in all areas related to the task: tutoring, leadership, andragogy, and equity. Porter has thrived as a mentor tutor, embedded tutor, chemistry tutor, and leader. 

“Anyone who has ever interacted with Raine as a colleague, tutor, or friend knows what an amazing human being she is... and how well deserved this prestigious honor is,” MT2C Program Coordinator Mark Manasse said.  

Porter said that the tutoring training and the strategies she has developed while connecting with Mesa College students will prepare her as she pursues a career as a community college chemistry professor. 

“As I continue to learn and prepare for my future goal, I am now confident that I will be equipped with the knowledge to support students with equitable practices,” she said.

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