Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Students Helping Students

When I was a student at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, we had a cooperative program with schools in the town where HPA students were regularly tutoring Waimea Elementary/ Intermediate School students in Math.

I participated in that program; I was helping an algebra student at Waimea Intermediate.

It dawned on me one day that we had students in need at HPA; why weren’t we also helping them?

I approached the administration about this and in their typical fashion they said, great idea, go implement it.

They weren’t being lazy in that response; it was typical, because they encouraged students to think of new ideas and then gave us the freedom to put those ideas to work.

My plan was to partner students successful in Math with students who were having problems, using grades as the basic guideline.

To keep the focus on education, the pairs would use empty classrooms for the tutoring (rather than in the dorm rooms.)

There were lots of volunteers (another lesson taught to us at HPA.)

The school trusted me enough to give me full access to all student records.

That, in itself, is amazing, when you think about it.

I think back on this often; it’s one of my proudest moments.

I am humbled by the extreme level of trust and confidence the school administration placed in me (a high school senior) in fulfilling my commitment to keep all records confidential – to this day, I have honored that responsibility.

Unfortunately, in today’s world of distrust and fear, I don’t see this kind of thing happening for anyone else.

I went through each student’s report card and interim grades and, based on their grades, identified the prospective tutors and tutees.  I also had the student and classroom use schedules.

I contacted each prospect (tutor and tutee) to check their willingness to participate (no one was forced into the program.)

Compatible student volunteers were then matched with students in need and the team was fit in an empty classroom when each had an open period in his schedule.  (Yes, there were also lots of logistical issues in setting this program up.)

I picked the student who was having the hardest time in Math.

The program worked – students were helping students, and those having challenges in Math had the added benefit of getting insights from his peer.

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