By Cindy Zomar, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Thanks to an initiative developed by a group of entrepreneurial teens, Marlborough’s middle school students will soon be eligible to receive free online tutoring.
“It was a ‘perfect storm’ of opportunities,” said Rob Schlacter, the President/ CEO of the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce. “This reaffirms the value proposition that the Chamber is an asset to the community at large. Our School to Business mission, other than internships, scholarships and job opportunities, is to look at the challenges facing education locally and offer solutions. In this case, it was apparent that some students have trouble with remote learning, so, BAM, we jumped in to help solve the problem.”
Award-winning EDAssist program
“It is an ongoing effort to get the business community engaged with the diversity of schools in our area, but when I saw this presentation and how this would be perfect with remote learning issues, I felt it was unbelievably timely,” Schlacter said.
Akarsh Aurora, a current junior at Ashland High, interned at MRCC. When Schlacter learned that Aurora and a group of other teens in the TiE Boston Young Entrepreneurs (TYE) program developed EdAssist, an award-winning startup geared to teaming National Honor Society (NHS) members with struggling students, Schlacter was quick to facilitate the connection with Mike Bergeron, Marlborough’s Superintendent and the project took off from there.
An extra set of hands
Marlborough High’s National Business Honor Society was engaged to handle the marketing end to parents and the school committee, while about 20 National Honor Society students have already signed up to begin tutoring.
Heidi Matthews, Marlborough School Committee member, was on board with the new venture.
“I think more students are apt to get help from their peers than might be willing to even admit they need help to adults,” she said. “With the easy access of just being able to login and see another face, this could be an extra set of hands for teachers. I hope it is very inclusive and that the Guidance department will help get the word out to all students. It’s certainly very timely, with so many families already opting for full remote for the entire school year.”
Re-igniting the joy of learning
Aurora’s presentation showed that tutors are screened for subject knowledge before they can be verified, and each session is followed by a review survey. Although six school systems have already adopted EdAssist, students will be teamed up only with tutors from their own district. There is no cost, and the tutors earn the community service credit necessary for NHS.
“We have applied for our nonprofit status, but will continue to just exist with grant money,” Aurora explained. “With remote classes, the joy of learning is nearly gone, and social interaction has died down, leaving so many feeling isolated. This program solves a problem, reinforces learning but from a peer, fostering greater independence and building communication skills. It also fills the need for volunteer opportunities for community service goals as well.”
A nod to Stanford University
Aurora recalled reading a posting on the Stanford University eNewsletter regarding the value of peer tutoring.
“Peer tutoring creates a stress-free environment…no grading or testing, it’s enjoyable, and the students get a chance to chat and talk informally, too. With remote learning, this platform is necessary, provides value, and is adaptable,” he concluded.
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