Hun School juniors Devon Pasieka and Elizabeth Ji have created a remote homework and tutoring program that matches elementary and middle school students with volunteer virtual tutors.
They had the idea for the program over spring break after the COVID-19 outbreak in New Jersey began. Pasieka started crafting a virtual version of the Hun School’s on-campus peer tutoring program after finding out that Hun would be switching to virtual learning.
“The peer tutoring resources that we had on campus were really successful, so I wanted to still continue that and give students a place to go for help if they needed it,” she said.
She shared the virtual peer tutoring program she created with other students, and Ji reached out with an idea after observing her siblings at home.
“I’m home with my three siblings, and I see them struggling with their school work, so I spend a lot of time tutoring them,” she said. “So then I thought about all of the other younger students who might be struggling as well and how beneficial it would be if this program expanded into the local community.”
With a little bit of brainstorming, the pair created Study Engine, a tutoring program designed for elementary and middle school students to receive tutoring sessions and free homework crafted for their learning needs.
Study Engine offers tutoring opportunities for English, math, science, and history. To join Study Engine, parents fill out a Google form that indicates some basic information such as contact information, the child’s grade, school, what subjects the child needs help with, and some of their child’s interests and hobbies. Once this form is completed, the family is paired with a Hun peer tutor based on similarities in answers. After the connection is made, Hun students schedule a video call with the parent to ask more questions and learn additional information about the child. Tutoring sessions take place via video chat 1to 3 times a week and last 30 to 45 minutes.
“The goal of Study Engine is really just to help both the parents and children,” Pasieka said. “Tutoring their children is a responsibility parents probably never thought they would have and honestly, with their jobs, some parents just may not have the proper amount of time to dedicate to their children’s school work, especially first responders. So, that’s what we are here for. We have the time and the resources to help.”
Pasieka and Ji also crafted an application process that will allow them to find the best Hun student volunteers.
“Hun students fill out an application form that lists their name, grade, subjects they are comfortable tutoring as well as their extracurriculars,” Ji said. “But, we also ask why they want to be a tutor and what will they do to make their student’s day better. These questions are the two most important pieces of information on the application form for Devon and me.”
Pasieka and Ji said that while Study Engine is mainly a tutoring program, it is also a place for Hun students to make a difference and connect with younger students.
“Some students might have questions about the pandemic or why they are stuck home and it’s our job as volunteer tutors to answer their questions in a positive way,” Devon said. “We make sure our tutors go through sensitivity training so they know how to answer tough questions properly and make a positive impact on their students.”
Within just one week, Study Engine already has 35 tutors and working with about 10 to 15 families.
“The response from Hun students as well as families has blown us away,” Pasieka said. “Now we are seeing Hun families asking to send Study Engine to their friends who are outside of the local community because they want to get involved. The best part about all of this is that we are just getting started.”
To sign your child up for Study Engine, complete the online google form.