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Tutors help peers succeed in summer school
Tutors help peers succeed in summer school
Posted on 07/28/2022
Picture of Gyftakis and Ostrom

Summer at Utica Community Schools may look different than during the school year, but the class offerings are integral for some secondary students who need to finish classes that were not completed in years prior.

These summer school classes are made up of online courses which are guided by in-person teachers for each class. However, as Eppler Junior High counselor, Marla Ostrom, found out last summer along with Henry Ford II counselor, Catherine Livingston, some students still needed more help to be able to succeed.

“Last year we had students utilize the online tutoring offering available through the public library, but we realized that wasn’t enough,” Ostrom said. “These students needed someone to sit with them and help them through the summer school courses.”

With two weeks remaining in summer school, Utica High School junior, Jacob Tuzinsky, realized it was time to take advantage of the tutor offering.

“I tapped into this tutor program because I needed help and it ended up working out for me,” Tuzinsky said. “Reaching out for help was the smartest thing I could do.”

Tuzinsky’s tutor was fellow UCS classmate, Natasia Gyftakis, who is an Eisenhower High School and Utica Center for Mathematics, Science and Technology junior. Gyftakis volunteered to tutor to gain hours to help her apply for the National Honor Society next year, but she has already exceeded her recommended amount of hours.

“I just like to help people, I like to give them that second chance to be able to get these credits,” said Gyftakis.

“When you’re in a classroom it can be hard to grasp everything,” Gyftakis said. “Peer-to-peer tutoring really gives that one-on-one opportunity to help them work through each problem.”

“I’m seeing kids who previously were unsuccessful at school be able to feel success,” said Ostrom. “The story here is kids helping kids. I’m just so proud of these kids who are coming in and doing this.”

In the end, it is not only the students being tutored that are gaining from the experience, as Gyftakis noted. Both the tutor and the classmate being tutored are learning along the way.

“I feel like many people don’t reach out to be tutored because they’re scared, but it’s the best thing just to reach out and ask for help. I feel like that should be more normalized, to ask for help.”