Tutoring Club to the R-E-S-C-U-E


Nathan Kong and Sivan Yoskowitz

Have you ever struggled with schoolwork? High school students aren’t the only ones with work they just can’t figure out. Elementary and middle school students need just as much help. Like a hero flying to the rescue, that’s where the THS Tutoring Club comes in. It’s especially hard this year for kids to do their schoolwork. With many classes being on Zoom, pressing questions that would otherwise be asked in the classroom may go unanswered for longer than they should. Kids need help with their work, and the Tutoring Club is needed now more than ever. In the Tutoring Club, THS students go out of their way and take time off of their busy schedules to help others.

The Tutoring Club meets every Tuesday from 3:30 – 5 p.m.. on Zoom.

The club’s mission? “To assist all students with their homework and prep them for their classes.” The Tutoring Club’s web site also explains, “We have a learning environment in which students are able to learn peacefully with upperclassmen. We also give them advice on school life and the importance of earning excellent grades for the future.”

At the Tutoring Club, job titles aren’t just for show. With over 50 tutors and tutees at every meeting, things can get a little hectic. There are so many kids to watch over, hours to log, and parents to talk to that it can all become too much for one person to handle. To effectively deal with this, the Tutoring Club has a total of eight officers, and each one of them has an important role to play.

Eunice Koo (’21) is an officer who’s been in the club since her freshman year. When asked what happens on a typical day at the club, she said, “We give free homework help to K-8 kids that come. We help them with homework, then usually play games with them afterwards.”

Shira Oelsner (’23), recently-elected Vice President, has been in the club for the past two years and is a proud member and leader. “We make sure students understand the work they are given by further explaining what they learned in class, playing school-related activities, and more,” she said.

As officers of the club, many additional responsibilities rest on Koo and Oelsner’s shoulders. “As an officer, it’s a little more stressful than in other clubs because we need to log the hours for so many people,” Oelsner said. “Since it is a community service club, students have the opportunity to turn in their hours for a certain number of credits, which is why it’s so important to accurately log each tutor’s hours. As officers, we each spend a portion of each club logging about ten or so tutors’ hours in their own personal chart.”

Aside from small adjustments made because of the coronavirus, the essence of their duties remains largely the same. Koo told us about how the officers help assign tutors, check up on tutor groups for assistance, and deal with, as Koo put it, “more of the logistical aspect of the club.” This includes welcoming new tutors and tutees, as well as much more.

The Tutoring Club leaves a lasting impact on kids who come for schoolwork-help. Many never forget the help they received as kids and often pay it forward. “I know two 8th graders from last year who joined the club as high schoolers this year,” Koo said, “and a few others who mentioned they had been to the club as kids in the past. But I also know that some of the kids that come now ask if they can be tutors when they join in high school, so I hope that number increases.”

With the pandemic forcing a change of lifestyle upon the community this year, everyone has had to adapt in one way or another. The Tutoring Club managed this transition by becoming a virtual club, as it had previously hosted meetings in the school’s Lalor Library Media Center. “COVID forced us to move our club onto a Zoom call,” Koo said. I would say it’s definitely more difficult being on Zoom just because it’s not the same as being in person. You don’t have that physical contact, which makes it hard to really bond with the kids like we did pre-COVID.” Despite these challenges, the club still tries its best to provide all kids with a fun learning experience.

Some might think of the Tutoring Club as nothing more than extra school after school. Neither Koo nor Oelsner sees it this way. “I wouldn’t necessarily call it more ‘school after school’ because you are given the opportunity to help kids grow as learners and individuals, which is an extremely rewarding aspect of the club,” Oelsner said. According to Oelsner, participating in the Tutoring Club isn’t only about work, as both tutors and kids are able to bond over games like Pictionary after school work is done.

Koo agreed with Oelsner. “I definitely think it’s more than school after school. The kids get a chance to do their homework with company and also get a chance to have fun with their tutor through online games or just talking.” Joining the Tutoring Club brings many advantages in addition to the ones already mentioned. “Kids can meet new people and do things that they want to do,” Koo said.

The THS Tutoring Club is open to all Tenafly students K-8 to be tutored and THS students can volunteer their time to tutor. There’s no cost to tutor or be tutored and tutors actually get community service hours for the time they spend in the club.

Tutors can get a lot out of the experience. For Koo, the best part is that “You get to create really meaningful bonds with the kids that come, and being their ‘go-to’ person when they come into high school, or in the Zoom, is a special feeling.” Teaching kids is a benefit all its own. Koo said she got much better at explaining things through being a tutor, and since kids are all unique and interesting people of their own, “You also laugh a lot through being a tutor!”

Oelsner appreciates how tutoring students has helped secure her knowledge in the concepts she tutors in. It has helped her gain a further comprehension of many subjects she already knows and has enhanced many of her skills. “Being a tutor also provides me with a set of skills advantageous for my future,” Oelsner said. “I can teach and explain distinct topics in various ways to suit the student’s learning style. I have noticed that my communication, interpersonal, listening, and patience skills have enriched through tutoring students.” Oelsner is thankful for the experiences that participation in the Tutoring Club has granted her and is excited to use her skills in the future when working with colleagues, professors, and other students.

So does Tutoring Club actually make a difference? Koo seems to think so. “I think we’re definitely helping these kids,” she said, “whether that be big or small.”

Oelsner agree. “I think Tutoring Club makes a significant difference for students learning at Tenafly schools. For the tutor, it’s a great experience because it’s fulfilling to receive positive responses from the students you tutor. It also makes a difference for the student, as they are able to develop a relationship with tutors throughout the year and get to know older students, their techniques, and school habits.”

The Tutoring Club is a great place to meet new people, share skills, and make memories. Despite a drastically different year than the norm, the essence of the club remains unchanged: helping others. The club’s exceptional members have overcome many obstacles and beaten the odds. They are some of the few heroes in this crazy, messed-up world, and they can never be thanked enough for it. But here’s a start: Tutoring Club, thank you.