It’s not a sweater that was ever worn.
But for the “tutee” of Stevenson senior and Peer Tutor Trisha Mondal, the “protein structure” sweater will probably
always be a favorite…and likely will never be forgotten.
Especially by an avid knitting and crocheting enthusiast.
“Sophomore year I was tutoring this girl in biology and she happened to also be in my math class. I knew from our interactions in math that she really liked knitting and crocheting,” Mondal said.
“So when she came in for help with protein structures for her biology class, I remembered this analogy that I had heard from my teacher about how protein structure relates to creating a sweater from yarn. After I explained that whole analogy to her, using something that was of interest to her, it just made so much more sense to her and I could see that she finally understood it.”
There was that “light bulb moment” for the “tutee,” triggered by something as simple and as relatable as a sweater.
“Light bulb moments” are what Mondal and senior Subham Mitra, co-presidents and three-year members of Peer Tutors, live for. It’s what all of the Peer Tutors at Stevenson love most about their very important jobs on campus.
The group is one of the largest student organizations at Stevenson, approximately 400 members strong, and has been especially busy this week, its first week of tutoring since before Winter Break, as students strive to get off to a good start for the Second Semester.
Peer Tutors volunteer to tutor fellow classmates in mathematics, science, social studies, English, computer science or world languages for a minimum of one hour per week. They must be at least a sophomore to participate and they are expected to take accelerated or honors classes while maintaining a B-average.
“I think, for some people, there can be a stigma to coming in for tutoring because they might see the idea of relying on academic support as a weakness. I mean, this is Stevenson and maybe there’s this idea that we should already know (everything), that we should be coming in with all this knowledge and that it should all come very easily,” Mitra said. “Even in a lot of classes, I think there are students who hesitate to reach out to their own teachers for the same reason.
“But what I’ve realized over my high school career is that you shouldn’t have to go through your academic journey alone, that it requires collaboration and support, and that it’s OK to ask for help. That’s actually a good thing. That’s why I feel like we are so lucky to have this program here, where we can help each other.”
There are Peer Tutors available in the ILC and the ELC before school, after school, during lunch and during nearly every academic hour. Every single day. There may be as many as 15 to 20 Peer Tutors in either of the tutoring locations on campus at any one time. Even during the remote learning of COVID, the Peer Tutors were active, helping fellow students via Zoom.
Meanwhile, Peer Tutors also participate in at least an hour of training each month to stay current on lessons and content from the various departments on campus, and there is an open and frequent dialogue between the Peer Tutors and Stevenson’s teachers.
“Pretty much every teacher I’ve ever had has talked about how good the tutors here are and how useful they are and how aligned they are to the expectations in each class,” Mondal said. “The main thing that encouraged me to come into tutoring was how much support the teachers give to the program.
“I got tutored in science here as a freshman and I really liked the support they gave me and I really liked that the students who were tutoring me knew my teachers and knew the processes that I was trying to learn, and they knew what the teachers expected us to do.”
Mitra also got tutored as a freshman, coming in for help with edits on his English papers. But his first actual experience with “tutoring” happened outside of the traditional classroom, and rather unexpectedly.
“I was in the band program as a freshman and I struggled a lot playing saxophone,” Mitra said. “I found a mentor who was a senior, and he helped me a lot to develop my skills. That made me realize how good mentoring or tutoring can be and I wanted to give back in that way too. That’s why I joined Peer Tutors as a sophomore.
“What’s really good about Stevenson is that this is a very service-oriented school and a lot of students here want to do things to enhance the community. I think that’s why so many people join Peer Tutors. You should see our informational meetings each year. They’re packed. People here know they have strengths in certain areas and they want to use them to help out others.”