Photo courtesy of Henry Segal
When the world entered a new phase of distance learning, teachers with children struggled to balance developing a novel curriculum and entertaining their children.
“The teacher’s kids ran up behind them, interrupting the class…which is understandable considering that the younger kids’ distance learning program was heavily adult-dependent,” said Henry Segal, a junior.
In late April, Segal developed a solution to teachers’ dilemma. He spoke with his friends and created Student-Teacher, a mentoring program with a simple website that serves as a resource for students and teachers on how to get started. The concept behind the program, as he explained, is to pair Upper School students with teachers’ children for free, 30-minute sessions.
“It took about two weeks to start Student-Teacher,” Segal said. “I worked with the Kinkaid Upper School administration, and by the end of the first week, I had over 40 volunteers. It worked incredibly for a week, so I decided to let some New York and California friends know. Both of them got Student-Teacher running in their schools within a week.”
Segal said the spring season was packed with about 50 sessions a week, and he has lost track of how many teachers he has helped.
He said he learned the art of persistence and bettered his organization skills in setting up this venture.
“I made dozens of cold calls to news stations and press companies, hoping someone would pick up,” he said. “If they didn’t, I tried again. I also had to organize the program better to allot enough time to complete my schoolwork.”
Mrs. Sarah Shea, a science teacher in the Kinkaid Upper School, said she was very appreciative of Student-Teacher.
“My daughter got help with some writing assignments that she needed to submit for school and even got art lessons from one of the most accomplished artists in our Upper School,” she said. “Bryan Akin, [junior], would lead hour-long science experiences for my son, complete with a lesson, videos, and experiments to try at home. It was amazing to see one of my former science students teaching my son to love science!”
Student-Teacher returned this fall, with adjustments and improvements, for the fall semester. One of the adjustments necessary for this school year was an increase in the number of time slots. Upper School students can now register to “babysit” from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Segal said he has looked into innovative ways to continue the program even when distance-learning ends.
“I think everyone benefits from this. The child who is being paired with a student gets to learn without any distractions from a cool high-schooler, and the volunteers also benefit because you can learn a lot just from teaching,” Segal said.
Those interested in applying can fill out this form. Student-Teacher is accepting applications on a rolling basis and the program will continue throughout the school year.