SHS students help organize math tutors

NHS members volunteered to tutor struggling SIS student virtually

Shorewood’s National Honors Society (NHS) has introduced a new program in response to new challenges posed by online learning this year. Led by seniors Ellie DeWeerdt, Emma Stenzel and Molly Fox-Kincaid, as well as junior Nick Bucciarelli, the project will aid students in grades 7-12 who need additional support with math.

“In the last year, for whatever reason, there was a lot of parent concern that kids were struggling with math at the middle school more than normal,” said Brett Aiello, NHS advisor. 

SIS standardized testing scores in mathematics have dropped 8.5 points since the 2013-2014 school year. Previously, the school’s score in mathematics achievement was 45.6/50. In the 2018-2019 school year, it dropped to 36.1/50

In addition to standardized testing concerns, parents worried about the many difficulties the Virtual+ learning model may present.

Molly Fox-Kincaid, one of the student leaders of the tutoring program, understands these concerns. 

“For me, it’s harder to learn the material, and that’s magnified for [younger students],” Fox-Kincaid said.

In the last year … there was a lot of parent concern that kids were struggling with math at the middle school more than normal,

— Brett Aiello, NHS advisor

Last quarter, the emergency learning plan caused many students to fall behind in math. 

“If they were behind when they started this year, it will be really difficult for them to learn the new material,” said Emma Stenzel, another student leader of the program.

Some parents voiced concerns about disparities in access to academic assistance.

“Paying for outside academic support is often a barrier to families and prevents them from getting the academic support their child might need,” said Kelley Salas, parent of an SIS and SHS student, as well as co-chair of the SIS PTO

NHS requires student members to participate in certain amounts of community service each semester. Offering an opportunity for NHS members to tutor younger students helps provide equitable access to academic support for all middle school students. 

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” said Tim Kenney, SHS principal. “NHS students will get the hours that they need to fulfill their responsibilities, and the even better part is that students who struggle with math will get some additional help.”

A lot of volunteering opportunities that students normally choose were shut down this year due to COVID-19, making the tutoring option easily accessible and convenient for NHS students. 

“It was hard for everyone to get their hours since a lot of places aren’t really needing volunteers right now with the pandemic,” Fox-Kincaid said.

Salas recognizes that, in addition to helping both middle and high school students, the program will help strengthen the community in Shorewood schools.

“We’re using the resources and the knowledge that we have within our own student community to help all students succeed, and I think that’s a wonderful model that these NHS students have come up with,” Salas said.

The program will start relatively small, with less than 30 participants. Each NHS member is individually matched to a middle school student to tutor over Google Hangouts or Zoom.

If there is enough interest, NHS will consider expanding the program to encompass other subjects and/or grade levels in the future.