Terry Dougherty’s Free Military Tutoring Program Gains National Attention

Atlantic County Teacher of the Year, winner of the Great American Teach-Off, Stockton graduate, current Stockton master’s student, and military wife and mom all describe one distinctive woman: Terry Dougherty. The story behind her unwavering efforts to support the education of military children through a free tutoring program she established is featured in Family Circle magazine this month and will air on NJTV in December.

Dougherty, who has an undergraduate degree in Teacher Education from Stockton, is currently a third grade teacher at Roland Rogers Elementary School in Galloway and a student in Stockton’s Master of Arts in Education (MAED) program.

Education standards from state to state differ, and military children who change schools frequently develop gaps in their learning. Dougherty established a tutoring service, “They Are Heroes Too,” which was held at Stockton this summer, to correct this situation for military families free of charge.

Terry Dougherty, in the center, is surrounded by family members after addressing the community at Stockton's MLK Day of Service in 2012.

Terry Dougherty, in the center, is surrounded by family members after addressing the community at Stockton’s MLK Day of Service in 2012.

Tutors are teachers from Atlantic County school districts and college students who are volunteering their time.

As a mother, teacher and Coast Guard wife, Dougherty understands the struggles that children from military families face when it comes to education, and she has the skills and expertise to help. As a Stockton graduate, she said she knew that she could get help to expand her program to reach more students.

“The program started out of my house. As a teacher, I saw the children on my street and knew they needed help,” explained Dougherty.

From her home, the program expanded to the Galloway Public Library, but word traveled faster than Dougherty could keep pace with—that’s when she decided to seek help from Stockton.
“I knew that Stockton College had a great reputation for community service,” she said. Dougherty and Daniel Tome, assistant director of Service Learning, quickly developed a mutually beneficial
partnership.

During the summer months, the college provides space and volunteers who serve as tutors, which allows the program to reach more students in need. “If it weren’t for Stockton, this program wouldn’t be happening,” said Dougherty.

A film crew from Classroom Close-up, NJ, a co-production of the New Jersey Education Association and NJTV, came to Stockton in August to capture footage and interviews that show how Dougherty is helping students from military families. The special, titled “Schools Supporting Soldiers’ Kids,” will air on NJTV on Dec. 15 and Dec. 21, 2013 and Jan. 19 and Jan. 25, 2014.