It’s Monday, 3:45 pm, and the regular school day is ending at the MLK Jr. School on Putnam Avenue. Fifteen minutes later, a number of 6th- 8th graders reappear in Room 304 for after-school academic support in math. Typically, at least 10 students attend the homework help sessions that pair local undergrad and grad students with middle-schoolers who are apt to falter in math without the individualized attention.
Managed by CSV, the after-school program began when Principal Gerald Yung and other school administrators collaborated with CSV’s Kasey Appleman around how to provide extra academic support. By February, three weekly after-school sessions were launched, one mostly for math. On one recent Monday, tutors from Simmons, Tufts, Lesley and Harvard were busily checking in with their students before settling down to work.
King Middle-Schoolers get the help they need from their volunteer tutors.
Several months ago Kasey reached out to the Harvard athletic department, with the result being that seven undergrad Golf Team members participate each Monday. Harvard volunteer Kevin says he finds the tutoring an “enriching experience”, and that it puts everything into perspective for him as a college student living in Cambridge. Michael, another student, notes that tutoring is a way of doing weekly community service. He also feels the importance of being a male role model for his male student. Another team member, Seiji, says that it has been satisfying to watch his tutee go from struggling with a math problem to working through the problem and feeling success.
After Monday’s focused academic work that lasted for the good part of an hour, students and volunteers relaxed a bit for an informal icebreaker. Each student/volunteer pair interviewed one another and then introduced the other to the larger group. As the semester moves on, getting to feel more comfortable in the larger group will continue along with other mentoring components to the sessions. After all, who doesn’t welcome a break when we’ve been working so hard?