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Here to Help: Maria McKee creates a community of tutors eager to serve students

Jan. 6, 2023, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Maria McKee considers herself “extremely lucky” to have a job that allows her to support both students and tutors. 

McKee is the Language Arts Tutorial Lab coordinator for GRCC. Her interest in tutoring began in early high school. She was a writing consultant while completing her bachelor’s degree at Grand Valley State University in writing and poetry. McKee came to GRCC in 2019 and began tutoring students in reading and writing.

“I really love community work and being in Grand Rapids. I get to give back to the neighborhood I grew up in,” she said. 

McKee is responsible for overseeing the group of student and professional tutors in the Language Arts Lab. She enjoys supervising and mentoring the tutors. She believes if tutors feel prepared and supported to do their jobs, then they will provide the best service to students. 

McKee empowers her tutors to build relationships with students. Academic support is not successful without a level of trust and rapport. Students need to feel that they are valued and safe. This mindset impacts the culture of the entire tutoring lab. 

One way that McKee protects the culture of the lab is by establishing the expectation that students come first. She is frequently found helping students so tutors can take a mental break, making sure each student receives the help they need. 

McKee said getting to work with all types of students who study a variety of disciplines keeps her job interesting. 

“I get to learn new things, and get to witness students sort through the chaos, try new things, and create quality work,” McKee said. 

McKee encourages students to remain flexible in college, emphasizing it is okay to be unsure about a major or pathway. She encourages students to focus on building their skills and exploring different gen-eds, and to utilize the student resources available. The tutoring staff all believe in their success. 

The Language Arts Tutorial Lab is located on the fifth floor of Cook Hall, and reopens for the semester on Monday, Jan. 9 2023. More information about the lab can be found here.