By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
BURLINGTON — While volunteering with the Notre Dame High School National Honor Society’s Saturday morning tutoring program about a year and a half ago, Zach Rashid saw how much the younger students loved working with the high-schoolers. He wanted to find a way to offer elementary and middle school students additional tutoring opportunities. “It is only on Saturdays, and it is hard for some kids to get there.”
He considered the idea of starting a weekday afternoon student-led tutoring club, which anyone in high school in good academic standing could join. He shared his thoughts with assistant principal Chris Schwarz who encouraged Zach to move forward with planning the club and offered to be a faculty advisor.
Notre Dame Tutoring Club offered its first tutoring sessions in February 2016.
Schwarz said, “It compliments what the (younger students) learn in the classroom, and it’s a chance for older kids to be positive role models.” It’s also an opportunity for the high-schoolers to demonstrate their Christian values through service.
The group started tutoring students last winter. Since high school students on campus get out of school before the younger students, the high-schoolers were able to head over to the middle school and elementary wings after dismissal to assist students in grades four through eight for about 30 minutes.
The group was such a hit with the high-schoolers that they outnumbered students seeking tutoring by about 2 to 1, so Zach began to make schedules for the high-school club members. “Most help out one or two days a week,” he said. Currently, 40 high school tutors participate. Even though the intention is to help the younger students, he noticed his high school classmates benefitting from the tutoring as well. “They’ve become a lot more confident” in their own academic and mentoring skills, he said.
Schwarz said the tutoring is optional for elementary students and the 20-some participants look forward to it. “They see these (high school) kids participating in band and musicals and plays and sports — they see them do a number of things. They look up to them.”
Fourth-grader Liam Delaney said the tutors help him get through tough problems on his homework and help him study for tests. Sixth-grader Rose Burrell said the tutoring club helps her concentrate on her homework, allowing her to finish it faster.
Schwarz is proud of what Zach and the other club members have been able to accomplish “I think it’s a great representation of what we want students to aspire to. We want them to have a servant leadership-type mindset and I really feel that’s what this is all about: serving our students and giving back.”