Jing He ‘21, shares a rewarding experience “connecting students impacted by COVID-19 and beyond to educational opportunities.”
This summer 25 students were accepted in the CSGC grants program. These grants are funded due to the generous support of the Cost, Earle/Mendillo and Workman families, who established endowment funds to support the community and public service endeavors of future generations of Deerfield students. For more information on these grants please visit: https://deerfield.edu/csgc/grants
It is hard to believe that I have been working on Outreach & Prep for almost five months. As a program, we have hosted just over 600 sessions for kids all across the world, from one-on-one and group classes to two-weeks-long intensives. I have gotten to know hundreds of students and their families, backgrounds, and stories. I have been inspired by my own peers and the dedication they have put into helping other students, like making lesson plans, teaching classes, hosting practice interviews, and much, much more. Most importantly, I have realized that, throughout this journey, the experience of working on Outreach & Prep has given me more than I could ever return. For the sake of not overwhelming this blog post, I have decided to summarize my experiences in the few points below:
- There is simply no Outreach & Prep without the team: Outreach & Prep is a collaborative effort between the tutoring and mentoring team, the Board members that handle day-to-day operations, and the parents and students themselves. It was incredibly rewarding to work with many of my close friends and classmates, as well as to get to know other students who joined to help out with the program. In a way, working on Outreach & Prep allowed me to both connect with my old friends and get to meet new ones as we brainstormed ideas for projects, such as hosting a writing contest in July and introducing summer intensives – a two-week long course that aims to cover one specific topic such as geometry or grammar – in August. Outreach & Prep would not have been possible without the incredible help and support we received along the way, from the tutors and mentors that dedicated hundreds of hours throughout the summer and the generous fund we received from the CSGC and Earle/Mendillo family to our own parents and students that were involved in the program. Parents regularly updated me on their students’ progress, as well as joined in to help us come up with ideas to better facilitate operations, such as using Google Quiz to automatically grade students’ practice SSAT tests and using Google Classroom to post updates and assignments.
- The motivation and dedication of our students: I have decided to list the students that were a part of the program as a separate point because I am truly inspired by their motivation to pursue educational opportunities outside of school and into the summer, and the dedication they have to learning. In my last blog post, I wrote about meeting with Isabella, a student that joined our program due to her schooling situation in the spring where she had trouble keeping up with concepts such as surface area and volume introduced to her in school. From late July to early August, Isabella was a regular attendee of our geometry intensive that covered several topics in middle school level geometry. Her mother told me that Isabella was able to tackle many of the questions she could not complete in the spring.Other students involved with our SSAT group tutoring also saw significant improvement in their scores, with several students scoring near perfect on our recent exams. On our mentoring side, students signed up to practice interviews and asked questions about applying to preparatory schools.
- Outreach and Prep: When Ellia and I first began, we decided on the name Outreach and Prep for several reasons. “Outreach” stood for two definitions – “the extent or length of reaching out” and “reach further than.” We hoped to achieve those two goals – to reach out to students who may need us and accomplish something for them beyond what they learned in school – through “prep,” which stood for preparation, whether through tutoring or mentoring. We hosted contests and competitions with the aim to encourage our students to, aside from learning materials and content, pursue something of their own academic interests. We individualized our tutoring service to help those who required it and offered group classes that simulated a class environment for others.Due to the number of interests we have from both our parents and students and our tutors and mentors, we decided to continue the program into the fall with slight modifications. With the uncertainty of the upcoming school year, Outreach & Prep hopes to continue our mission as we are set out to do: connecting students impacted by COVID-19 and beyond to educational opportunities.
At a time where I felt disconnected physically from many others, Outreach & Prep gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my community: Deerfield, New York, and beyond. The past five months have felt both short and long, and it is hard to believe that, in just three short weeks, I will be returning to the valley as a Deerfield senior. I am excited to return to campus with the experiences I have gained from this incredible journey.