Introducing Peer Tutoring


AJ Naddaff

It’s no secret that Brimmer and May places a premium on teaching effective writing. Clear writing reflects clear thinking, and when students graduate from here, they are ideally suited to have their voices heard—no matter his or her path.

To help ensure this successful result, we are fortunate to have a Writing Center, where students sign up for 20-minute slots to receive one-on-one assistance from dedicated teachers, who care deeply about helping students improve.

What’s the problem?

But the Writing Center resides in inadequate space. At most, six can cram in it at once—and even that’s pushing it.

Often, students receive help in other locations— like the lounge, cafeteria and library. For their part, teachers do their best to meet with students in various locations. But with different schedules, it’s often difficult to find a consistently quiet spot that matches a reliable meeting time.

Moreover, with a full course load and other faculty duties, any given week, it’s difficult for teachers to give more than an hour or so to the Writing Center. Writing Center Director David Cutler mans most of the tutoring hours, but he also instructs American History, Journalism, and a section of European History, in addition to advising Upper School Senate and Model United Nations. In the fall, he even coaches Cross Country, precluding him from tutoring after school.

Most glaringly, even the world’s best writing centers only cater to helping students become better writers. We can and should do better.

The Solution

We should improve not just the Writing Center, but also how additional help and feedback are offered in all disciplines. Last year, Hallie Black ’14 attempted to compliment the Writing Center, but her campaign, however admirable, lacked support. Additionally, tutors involved in the startup offered assistance in only math and science.

I have put a considerable amount of thought into reintroducing a more solidified program—one which utilizes teachers and students to help everybody succeed. Toward this end, I am working alongside Alina Fischer ’15 to establish a successful launch. She shares my dedication, and we have gone to great lengths to ensure that our tutors are committed and qualified.

Our fifteen tutors offer support in History, English, Chemistry, Physics, AP Calculus, Calculus, Pre-Calculus, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, French, Spanish, and Mandarin. Our tutors must receive a signed letter of support from a subject-specific teacher. If a student has not pursued a field here that he wishes to tutor, he must receive permission from the appropriate department head.

Students do not sign up for specific tutors, but rather for subjects then need help in. By doing so, we hope to offer as much help to as many students as possible, without overburdening any one tutor. We also hope that the peer tutoring program can help foster new and positive relationships, especially between individuals who may not otherwise interact throughout the day.

Moreover, our program has teacher and administrator support. Just this morning, Upper School Head Joe Iuliano helped me announce the program’s launch.

I want to encourage you to use the peer tutors. It’s very organized. It has great personnel. Make use of it. It’s in your best interest, especially as we are now about a month away from mid-year exams. — Upper School Head Joe Iuliano

How to sign up

It’s easy to sign up. Availabilities, highlighting different subjects, are shown on the Writing Center door. Simply print your name for the slot that works best for you, and keep in mind your tutoring location. We have space reserved in the Wright Conference Room, the Ferrara Conference Room, the Solarium, as well as various classrooms throughout campus. Even better, as the need arises, peer tutoring will take precedent in the library conference room. For a look at our schedule, click here .

I am excited about launching this program with Alina. Together, we have laid the foundations for what we hope will be a successful and lasting program—one which will far outlive our time here after we graduate.