Monthly Archives: January 2017

Meet Our New Staff: Ben and Irina!

This new year at Tutors for All has brought some terrific new staff, including our newest Program Managers, Ben Cottingham and Irina Uk!  We recently had the opportunity to chat with Ben and Irina about their backgrounds, what brought them to T4A, and what they have taken away from their work so far.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself. 

4208283611782924926?account_id=2Ben: I am a Program Manager for Boston Green Academy and Boston International Newcomers Academy. Before coming across Tutors for All, I was a Curriculum Writer for the Oklahoma State Department of Education and served as a Corps Member for Teach for America in Oklahoma City. I graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, near my hometown of Hendersonville, NC. When I have free time, I enjoy activities such as traveling, mountain biking, snowboarding, and playing soccer.

Irina: I am the Program Manager at the Tobin School. Prior to working at Tutors for All, I taught high school mathematics and led a Precalculus course team in a Chicago charter school. I received my Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Technology, Innovation and Education in 2013. After graduating, I explored my interest in leveraging technology to improve education by Irina Uk Feature Photodesigning learning technologies for companies such as HarvardX, CAST, IDC Herziliya’s Media Innovation Lab, Scholastic and Knewton. Now, I enjoy working in both education leadership and access roles, as well as designing code education programs. Besides managing a program at Tutors for All, I lead a Coding Club for kids through the Lesley STEAM Lab. In my free time, I enjoy creating digital art, and practicing martial arts and yoga.

2. What drew you to Tutors for All?

Ben: In my experience as an educator, I saw the transformative power tutorials and remediation had on student achievement. However, many educators are already overburdened with their multitude of other responsibilities and cannot successfully work one-on-one with students. Tutors for All ensures that high need students receive the additional attention they need to be successful, enabling teachers to focus on developing quality whole class instruction.

Irina: I liked the mission of Tutors for All. I wanted to help others inspire kids to love learning and to provide them with the tools they would not otherwise have access to.

3. What is the most rewarding part about working for T4A? What have you learned so far?

Ben: The most rewarding part is certainly watching the students grow and succeed. The growth of tutors as young professionals is remarkable as well. Their enthusiasm to become a part of the broader education movement is refreshing and renews our drive to continue the work we do at Tutors for All.

Irina: I love sharing ideas with other Program Managers- we learn from each other. I also love seeing tutors when they recognise what a large difference they have made in someone’s life.

4. What are you most looking forward to in your work with T4A in 2017?

Ben: I’m extremely excited to begin work as Program Manager at Codman Academy. The school has a reputation for providing exemplary educational opportunities and is currently our longest running program and I’m eager to begin working with their fantastic students and staff.

Irina: I am looking forward to growing the Tobin program. I know my team has the potential to effect more change.

5. What has been your most memorable T4A experience so far?

Ben: At Boston International Newcomers Academy, many students are recent arrivals to the US and we were fortunate to have an alum from last year volunteer with us as a tutor. Seeing the impact she has coming back to help other students has been very impactful to students, teachers, and our program. Hopefully, she will inspire others to take up the same service in future years.

Irina: My most memorable experience was when a student who was apathetic to the program at the beginning said, “My tutor makes me smile.” And another said, “I low-key like tutors.” I thought to myself, what a huge difference we are making.

6. What are your goals for the future?

Ben: My immediate future plans involve attending one of several graduate programs in education leadership beginning in fall 2017. Ultimately, I would like to develop policy for the federal department of education or hold public office.

Irina: I want to continue to improve the ongoing PD program for the tutors, and also grow the Tobin program.

7. Did you make any new years resolutions? How are they going?

Ben: I want to improve my Spanish skills to where I can easily carry a conversation with native speakers. It’s going well so far, I’ve practiced for an hour each day with either a language learning software or a friend.

Irina: Several years ago, I made a resolution not to make resolutions. I have weekly goals that I try to meet. I think change happens in small increments. I try to focus on each day and make it as good as it could be.

Kudos to Our Fall 2016 Students and Tutors!

Last month, Tutors for All wrapped up six noteworthy programs (including a new partnership with Boston International Newcomers Academy)! This past semester in particular, there was an emphasis on student-driven learning and creating a synergistic environment between scholars and tutors. We’d like to share a bit about four of the programs, as well as some of the results!

MGHMassachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Community Health Improvement

The Masachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement (MGH CCHI) and Tutors for All continued their partnership this Fall by offering academic support to 18 total scholars in 10th-12th grade. With the support of 15 coaches (tutors) from local colleges and universities, the Youth Scholars Program ran for 10 weeks and catered to all students, especially those who met a certain criteria based on assessments, GPA, and core class grades.

Each scholar received 120 minutes of academic support every session, and a collegiate academic environment was created, encouraging a scholar-driven learning approach. Overall, the vast majority of scholars indicated overwhelming satisfaction with their coaches, rating them a 4 or 5/5.

Students who received tutoring in reading gained an average of 1.2 years of skill over the ten week program; students who received math tutoring  gained an average of 1.93 years!

Many of the students expressed great appreciation for the support they received from their tutors over the course of the semester. One student in particular said, “Thanks for pushing me to believe that I can improve even when the world is moving faster than I can read.” 


Boston Green Academy BGA FALL 2016

T4A began its partnership with the Boston Green Academy in the fall of 2015, and this past semester transitioned to an in-school, pull out model to increase student attendance. Tutorial sessions took place during the school day, one group on Tuesday and the other on Thursday.

Twenty-one students enrolled in the program with the support of nine local tutors from Bostonian colleges and universities. Coaches were given a sequence of skills to cover with their students throughout the semester based on the four primary domains of the 10th grade MCAS Math exam.

About 90% of the students did as well as or better on the end assessment than they did on the first assessment, and about 60% of the total students showed significant improvements on the tests given to them at both the beginning and end of each tutorial session!

TOBINTobin K-8 School Program

Tutors for All began its partnership with the Tobin School in 2010 and has been working with students exclusively on math since 2012. This fall, 14 total students enrolled in the program which ran twice weekly for 80 minutes per session.

The framework for the program came from the JUMP math curriculum developed in Toronto, CA by John Mighton. Through this, students were allowed to work at their own pace, particularly when working one-on-one to learn basic numeracy concepts. As a result of the tutorial sessions, students who took several “Show What You Know” assessments at the end of each meeting showed a 26 percent improvement overall.

A consistent student recognition policy was put into place in which students tracked their own growth on charts and were given positive points by tutors. Additionally, awards were distributed to each participating student on the last day of the program

On the final survey, almost every student marked tutors in all categories as above or exceedingly above average. One participant discovered a passion for challenges, saying, “My favorite part is when I get a hard question. That is my favorite part.” 

Tutors also felt the impact of tutorial sessions, learning from their students in the process. At the end of the semester, one tutor discussed, “I think the biggest impact was explaining why it’s important to work hard and go to college.”

Boston International Newcomers Academy BINCA FALL 2016

This past semester, Tutors for All and the Boston International Newcomers Academy unveiled our first collaborative program ever! This program emphasized working with students within Boston International High School’s segment of the academy, providing in-classroom assistance to teachers with large classes

On several occasions, tutors with advanced skills in high-need languages were able to provide assistance in Newcomers Academy classes. In total, five T4A tutors offered support to a total of nine instructors in 20 different classes.

A massive thank you to all of our Fall 2016 tutors, and congratulations to their students!