The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Jul. 22, 2024

County native involved in UA ed. program

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AKRON — Two undergraduate students within the LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education at The University of Akron (UA), Cheyenne Oechsle, a Van Wert County native, and Matthew Derksen, have developed a new initiative, the K-12 Homework Hotline, for Akron area students and their families. This free tutoring program is designed to give K-12 students the chance to work with a trained education major to receive assistance in the subjects of math, science, social studies and language arts in the form of a video call or telephone call.

Cheyenne Oechsle

The program began Wednesday, April 29, and will run Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., until the end of the school year. In these tutoring sessions, area youths can work one-on-one with highly qualified education majors, all studying to be licensed teachers. K-12 students or their parents will use a sign-up tool, SignUp Genius, to schedule themselves a tutoring session in 20-minute intervals. 

Oechsle, a fifth-year student majoring in both adolescent-to-young-adult (AYA) integrated social studies and history, hopes this initiative helps youths and their families navigate some of the challenges associated with distance learning.

“We wanted to create something that would help ease the burden that teachers, parents and students are facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” explained Oechsle, who graduated from Crestview High School in 2015. “After talking with area youth, we noticed that both students (and their parents) are struggling to manage the academic workload and content. The goal is for this program to become an additional resource that youth can use to finish the school year strong.”

The Homework Hotline will have two video conference rooms using WebEx; science and math will share one room and social studies and language arts will share the other. Each room will have two hours set aside for students to sign up for that particular subject in 20-minute intervals. With WebEx, students can come into the session via a link on the computer or call in using a number and access code. All sessions will be recorded.

Derksen, who is also majoring in both AYA integrated social studies and history, has worked with his mentor teacher to move his curriculum for student teaching entirely online. He has continued to engage high school students through videos and daily postings on Google Classroom.

“Research shows time and again the benefit that one-on-one instruction has on student learning,” says Derksen. “We have an incredible network of UA students that want to serve their community during this difficult time. We believe the K-12 Homework Hotline offers youth an important tool to finish this school year strong and be prepared to succeed in the future.”  

As the Homework Hotline program gets up and running, only four subjects will be the main focus. But there’s already thought on what to include next. 

“We are hoping to expand once word spreads and include a specific Early Childhood and Special Education strand,” said Oechsle. “Educators, students, and their families are thrust into a completely new situation, where they must continue to enact a formal curriculum outside of the traditional school day. Whether the limitations come down to technology or an abundance of students asking for help, we have identified a gap that needs to be filled.”

Signups for tutoring can be done online through the K-12 Homework Hotline. Current UA students interested in volunteering two hours a week to tutor via the hotline can do so as well via the website. Questions about the program can be directed to Oechsle at or Derksen at

POSTED: 05/02/20 at 6:15 am. FILED UNDER: Youth