West High’s first-ever Tutoring Center now open to all

This year marks the opening of the first-ever West High Tutoring Center, where students can benefit from one-on-one tutoring sessions by their peers.

As you enter the room you see six tall tables and chairs with students scattered throughout, Chromebooks open, papers strewn about. This is a common sight in the tutoring center, located in room 214.

When it first opened in October, the tutoring center was available only for AP and honors students, but as of October 26, it is open to all students.

Aditi Borde
The West High peer tutoring center opened this year on September 24.

In December of last year, several teachers, students, and administrators went through a process called instructional rounds. These rounds were a part of a district-wide equity project. The goal of the process was to find places in the school community that lack equity in order to give everyone the tools they need to succeed. AP Human Geography teacher Megan Johnson was one of many teachers that went through the rounds. “One of the things that was identified when we were observing classrooms, particularly honors and AP classes, was that there was a lack of representation of minority students and students from lower socioeconomic statuses,” Johnson said.

Students sign in on a desktop computer as they come in and then are able to choose a  tutor. They should also check the tutoring schedule before coming in to see what subjects the tutors specialize in to know if it is a good time to meet with them. The center is open before and after school, during AFT and Fridays during seventh period. To sign up for the tutoring center students use Flexisched just as they would any other class and select the tutoring center (214) as their destination.

Peer tutors receive silver cord hours for the time they spend volunteering. Marnie Vonderhaar ‘19 has been tutoring for about a month but still hasn’t had the opportunity to help many students. “I tutor mainly in psychology and I haven’t seen a single psychology student come in for AFT,” Vonderhaar said. “I decided to tutor because I thought it would be a good opportunity to help other students since I’ve already taken the class.”

Although not many students use the tutoring center on a regular basis, Vonderhaar believes this should change. “[The tutoring center] is really easy to access,” Vonderhaar said.  “I think a lot of students would feel a lot more comfortable asking their fellow students and peers for help rather than talking to a teacher or paying for a tutor outside of class.”

AP European History teacher Dominic Iannone promises extra credit in exchange for his students visiting and completing a session in the peer tutoring center. “I think that there are many students in my classes that could benefit from working with one of the tutors, but they are, for a variety of reasons, hesitant to go and ask,” Iannone said. “By offering a couple extra credit points for going and trying it out I am hoping I can get some people in the door who might not otherwise take advantage of the opportunity…My long-term hope is that it will develop into a systemic culture of students helping students succeed.”

Aditi Borde
Originally the tutoring center was open to only AP and honors students, but now it is open to all students.

Initially, the tutoring center was targeted towards first time AP and Honors students as a part of the Equal Opportunity Schools Initiative. At first, there were not enough tutors, staff or resources to support all kids we have at West. Now, however, Johnson feels there are enough peer tutors to support more students visiting the center.

“The peer tutoring center is being utilized, but not to its fullest potential. We would love to see it used more,” said Johnson. “And we now feel it is ready to be expanded to all courses and all students here at West High.

A common misconception is that the tutoring center should only be used if a student is failing a course. However, tutors can simply be used as study partners. “The things that we know from research is that the ability to talk about what you’re learning and trying to explain it to someone else drastically increases your ability to remember what you’re learning,” said AP Psychology teacher Travis Henderson.

“I don’t think that a lot of people really know about [the tutoring center] right now,” Vonderhaar said. “But I think that if students use it, they’ll tell other people about it and the word will spread.”