Schuler Coaches My Kind of Reality Stars

November 22, 2010

By Judy Masterson/Lake County News-Sun

Go comb out your poof, Snooki, cause you got nothin’ to say.

The star of reality TV’s “Jersey Shore” told a reporter last summer that she has only read two books in her life. Duh.

I have a better idea for a reality show. It would still throw together young, toned, talented adults. But they wouldn’t be given to tantrums, rants and drunken pratfalls. They would, instead, be literate, thoughtful, and intelligent. They would care about others, even when they were soaking in a hot tub.

My reality show would feature AmeriCorps volunteers, specifically, the young college grads who are serving as academic coaches for Lake County high school students in the Schuler Scholar Program.

Shooting would be a snap. The 15 coaches are already living together in Schuler-owned houses in Gurnee, Round Lake and Highwood. They’re earning every thin dime of their $11,000 stipend by tutoring students and helping them prepare for admission to the most selective colleges and universities in the United States.

Schuler Executive Director Candace Browdy said Schuler coaches and staff joke that the living arrangement is “our version of MTV’s ‘The Real World.’ Scholar coach and math and science whiz Nick Ulrich, who hails from Washington state, said he initially wondered ‘Are there going to be cameras somewhere? Do I go off in the closet at the end of the day and talk about my roommates?’”

I would love to hear my TV stars talk shop. They are laboring in the high-stakes game of education, helping to treat one of the great, festering injustices of the nation, which amounts to this: students in low-income communities, kids who need the most resources, get the fewest.

Schuler coach Kenneth Coleman, who tutors students at Waukegan High, put the challenge this way: “We’ve got to figure how to get Schuler to the rest of the student body,” he said. “Those resources that push students: there’s no shortage of them in Lake Forest or Lake Bluff or Warren (High). The disparity is so visceral.”

“Visceral,” Snooki. Look it up.

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