PEP’s tutoring program is an opportunity for students to get feedback from PEP professors, graduate and undergraduate student tutors, and their peers outside the classroom. It provides less structured academic spaces where students can study and work on class assignments, research projects, and personal academic endeavors. Tutors are available to provide support in various subject areas – from calculus to poetry to psychology and more

“Working with PEP has allowed me to grow in terms of adapting curriculums to make them more inclusive and hone my techniques in facilitating the learning process of others. Without hesitation I can say that this has been the most rewarding and eye-opening experience of my academic career.”

Siera Stoen (former PEP tutor)

Tutoring is one of the few times students in our program may have access to a quiet space to work on their assignments and the only time they have access to computers to write and edit coursework. Students in PEP take an average  2 – 4 courses per semester, so this time is extremely valuable. Tutors are able to support students with individual courses, and tutors who specialize in specific areas based on their own expertise can be serve as resources for students. Tutoring also gives students the opportunity to study together in small groups, ask each other questions about assignments or upcoming exams, and continue discussions from class in a collaborative environment.

In a regular tutoring session, I may edit horror short storiesor brainstorm with students on essays about Malcolm X or Sun Tzu. It’s rewarding for me because they’re all really smart, kind, and motivated students.”

Abaki Beck (former PEP tutor)

Tutoring is a crucial aspect of PEP because it maintains an academic environment for the students, allowing free intellectual exchange and more focused revision of assignments, papers, and other coursework.

“For me, as a graduate student studying English literature, it has been a great opportunity to work with students on written composition across a range of different disciplines–many of which I would not encounter otherwise. For the students too, I think, study hall provides a space where student explore ideas from across courses, and can engage and explore them from different perspectives.”

Anna Preus (former PEP tutor)

The Prison Education Project Reading Group convenes each semester at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (MECC) and the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (WERDCC) to consider a series of linked texts.

Designed to sharpen participants’ reading and critical thinking skills, increase exposure to significant and interesting texts, and promote an intellectual community among a wider audience at MECC and WERDCC, the PEP Reading Group also hones the skills needed for participants to become successful applicants to the Prison Education Project.   

Meeting approximately once a month during the spring and fall semesters, the PEP Reading Group focuses on a new theme each semester. Past themes have included “The West, ” “The Past in the Present: Memoir and Science Fiction,” and “World War II.”

Founded by Maggie Garb and Barbara Baumgartner

Chess Club

The MECC Chess Club, coached by Caleb Denby, is an opportunity for players to improve their game with regular instruction and competition. Each week’s meeting includes lectures and instruction reviewing strategy, tactics, puzzles, and grandmaster games. Players then use the second part of the class to hone their skills against each other and engage in individual instruction.

Caleb Denby

Caleb Denby

Chess Coach

Caleb Denby is a chess player, coach, and educator hailing from the Saint Louis area. After discovering the game at age 11 and joining the world-renowned Saint Louis Chess Club, Caleb quickly became passionate about chess. After more than a decade of competition, he has earned the National Master title and achieved a peak FIDE rating of 2234, ranking him among the top 300 players in the country.

As Caleb progressed through the ranks, he discovered a love for teaching chess to others. For several years, he has been sharing his knowledge and expertise with students of all ages and skill levels. Caleb is currently the head of the Saint Louis Chess Club’s programs for classes and private lessons, where he continues to promote chess and inspire others to improve their skills.