March 21, 2019
Peer tutoring program highlighted at Student Forum
Upper St. Clair High School students Oliva John, Emma Skeel and Rebekah Chikuni presented information regarding the district’s Peer Tutoring program during the South Hills Area School Districts Association Student Forum on Thursday, March 14, 2019, at Baldwin High School. The theme for the annual event was “Showcasing the South Hills Area Schools.”
“Districts around the country and throughout our region are challenging the nation of traditional school settings and practices, working harder than ever to remake their classrooms into 21st century learning environments,” Randal Lutz, Ed.D., superintendent of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District, said. “Our goal for the program is to provide a forum for our students and staff to showcase their efforts through an evening of sharing.”
The Upper St. Clair Peer Tutoring program matches student volunteers from Upper St. Clair High School with their classmates as well as students from Fort Couch and Boyce middle schools who need assistance in one or more subjects. The program, which functions as an independent study class, is led by Gordon Mathews, school counselor, and Tanya Chothani, resource center and IB Diploma Program coordinator.
“Overall, the Peer Tutoring program has encouraged students to work together and extend care and support to their classmates,” Mr. Mathews said. “Since the inception of the program, students feel more comfortable asking for help and their peers are willing and eager to provide it. This shift has been the most impactful result of this multi-building program.”
Students who are interested in serving as tutors require the recommendation of their school counselor and the classroom teacher in the content they wish to tutor. Students must maintain an unweighted 3.0 GPA and have received an A or B in each course they plan to tutor. Tutors earn course credit based on the amount of tutoring provided.
High school students in need of tutoring services can sign-up via an online form. Services are provided during the school day when the students have time available in their schedule.
“The Peer Tutoring program at the high school helps students from all class years engage and relearn topics in a different setting,” Mr. Mathews said. “For some students, the opportunity to relearn a topic from a peer that has previously done well in a course allows them to feel comfortable in knowing that others have had difficulty before them and succeeded. In addition, our tutors have gained a better understanding of their topic area by relearning lessons in preparation for their tutoring sessions.”
Due to the staggered dismissal times, high school tutors are able to travel to Boyce and Fort Couch to provide tutoring services during the last 45 minutes of the middle school day. High school students are paired with middle school teachers who coordinate their services.
“Our high school tutors have had a great impact on their younger peers with their time at Fort Couch and Boyce. Not only have they helped students with their subject areas, but they have also served as a positive role model,” Mr. Mathews said. “Many times our students will serve in a mentor type role while also working on executive functioning skills.”
The Upper St. Clair students previously presented information regarding the Peer Tutoring program during the Pennsylvania School Boards Association Excellence in Education Fair last fall in Hershey, Pa.
SHASDA is comprised of the following 23 school districts: Baldwin-Whitehall, Bentworth, Bethel Park, Brentwood Borough, Canon-McMillan, Carlynton, Charleroi Area, Chartiers-Houston, Chartiers Valley, Elizabeth Forward, Fort Cherry, Keystone Oaks, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township, Ringgold, South Allegheny, South Fayette Township, South Park, Trinity Area, Upper St. Clair, West Allegheny, West Jefferson Hills and West Mifflin Area.