by Kathryn Cross
Mira Costa High School students Priya Chatwani and Julia Sheth are slowly changing the South Bay community, one child at a time.
At the beginning of the last school year, Chatwani and Sheth wanted to start a club at Mira Costa that would give back to the community. Upon learning this, a friend’s mother—Principal Gretchen Janson of Eucalyptus Elementary School in Hawthorne—mentioned that she thought Mira Costa students would make phenomenal tutors for underprivileged Eucalyptus students who struggle with math.
Chatwani and Sheth immediately knew that “it was a perfect fit,” they said.
In order to jumpstart the club, Mrs. Janson selected some fifth graders she felt would benefit from tutoring. At the same time, Chatwani and Sheth organized a club called Together We Tutor at Mira Costa High School. They soon recruited a few friends and began tutoring the fifth graders.
Now in the club’s second year, the two founders and some 45 club members visit Eucalyptus after school every Friday to tutor a group of nearly 30 fifth graders.
An average tutoring session begins with a warm-up, continues with a lesson explanation, and ends with multifarious educational games such as “Around the World” and math jeopardy. Together We Tutor tries to play games that are interactive, “making tutoring a place where the students actually want to spend their Friday afternoons.”
By the end of the last school year, it was evident that the club was a success. Raquel Dickert, a Eucalyptus Elementary School math coach recognized the “very energetic” tutors and “activities that really relate to the kids on an instructional level.”
Additionally, last year’s fifth grade class advanced their average California Standardized Testing math scores from 44% to 57.9%, jumping from Proficient to Advanced. The school’s Academic Performance Index (API) increased by 20 points. Eucalyptus Elementary School also met each of the 21 requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Not only do the fifth graders benefit from Together We Tutor, but the tutors and the teachers prosper as well. Tutors are able to receive community service hours, practice leadership skills, interact with younger students and receive the “rewarding feeling of giving back to their community,” Sheth said.
The club also gives the teachers “extra help [they] need,” Dickert said. The Eucalyptus math coach also mentioned how it influences her teaching and provides a “whole new insight into learning” because the tutors are able to present math from a teenage student’s perspective.
The club is contemplating an expansion to include abused, at-risk and homeless children at the 1736 Family Crisis Center. Furthermore, Together We Tutor is working to encourage other high schools to begin a chapter. Those approved will be trained on how to set up and run a Together We Tutor club during the 2014 summer.
Together We Tutor will continue with their original itinerary, however. They will carry on with their club meetings every Tuesday at lunch in Mr. Westerberg’s room at Mira Costa High School.
For more information, visit facebook.com/TogetherWeTutor or contact email@example.com.