Ford B. Cauffiel was still in grade school when he helped fix an engine for a next door neighbor.

The man, a high school teacher, was so impressed that he insisted young Ford set his sights on becoming an engineer, arranging tutoring with another student so the young Ford could pass algebra and then geometry and trigonometry.

When he graduated in 1948 from the old Libbey High School, Mr. Cauffiel, 85, remembers he was ‘the highest in mathematics’ but didn’t do so great in English.

The difference, the successful businessman is convinced, was that early tutoring from a fellow student.

Mr. Cauffiel, who graduated from the University of Detroit in 1952 with a degree in mechanical engineering and has amassed more than 20 U.S. patents while developing, designing and manufacturing highly-efficient aluminum and steel processing plants, never forgot the help he received.

And that’s why, for the last 25 years, Mr. Cauffiel has donated large sums of money to more than 20 school districts in four states for students-tutoring-students programs. His organization, Students for Other Students (which can be found at www.gotutor.org), funds and promotes peer tutoring programs in school districts to support and catch at-risk students before they fall through the cracks.

His contribution to Toledo Public Schools is close to $200,000, including $10,000 this year to establish a peer tutoring program at Scott High School.

“I can’t solve all of the problems of education, but I can help the kids,” says the chairman of American Steel Products Co.

His concept is simple: pay top students $8 an hour to tutor fellow students who might be having difficulty in a subject.

“If you pay kids, they get a feeling of accomplishment because they’ve earned their money,” he says. “And job experience is the first thing on an application, so it will help them later.”

Plus, the students learn how to communicate, how to have empathy and how to have patience – all skills needed in the workplace.

For the Scott program, students in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program are eligible to become tutors. They must be recommended by teachers and fill out an application. AVID is a research-based college readiness program that has existed nationally for more than 35 years. The mission of the AVID college readiness system in grades K-12 is to ‘Close the achievement gap by preparing ALL students for college readiness and success in a global society.’

Scott senior Blake Minter, who has a GPA of 4.5 and will be her class’s valedictorian later this year, was a tutor last year and loves that it allowed her to practice the questioning skills she has learned in AVID.

“The students ask questions until we get to the point and I’m able to give them suggestions and talk about their issues,” she says. “I don’t know everything.”

Mr. Cauffiel adds, “We don’t learn until we ask questions.”

The tutoring sessions are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Scott High library and although a day earlier this semester had a handful of pairs teamed up, Mr. Cauffiel wants more such sessions.

“I want this to be successful and I want it to be expanded fast,” he says. "I want to help these kids ... and it's a highly efficient, cost-effective way of educating our children. Two of them are getting educated at once, with the tutors learning something twice. And empathy is so valuable. They learn to get along with each other."

Posted on March 4, 2016