Student-led tutoring organization continues to expand

Volunteer tutors have been working with students for about a year.

A free, student-led virtual tutoring organization aimed at K to 8 students recently held its second annual summer camp and continues to expand after launching during the opening months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year we’ve done a lot of expansion,” said Shirley Xu, 15, a student at the Bishop’s School in La Jolla and founder of Volunteer Tutors Organization. “We have established branches in New Jersey, Hawaii and Houston, Texas, and we are continuing to work on establishing national and maybe international communities.”

The summer camps, which took place on Zoom during the first and second weeks of August, included math, reading, writing, extracurricular activities and other courses tailored to different grade levels. The organization has about 200 tutors in North America and a few more internationally who lead one-on-one tutoring and group classes.

High school students and select middle school students are eligible to become tutors. Sessions are typically held in English, but other languages are also available based on availability of multilingual tutors.

“I think definitely, the place where we are right now is more than I could have ever hoped,” Shirley said. “First it was just a small group of friends and I personally reached out to everyone to establish some small connections. But now, as we have a lot more branches across North America, we’re getting tutors who I don’t personally recognize, which is awesome because it’s showing we have been establishing so many connections and can help so many people.”

Over the last year, students have become more acclimated to the distance learning technologies that they’ve had to rely on since the pandemic limited the time students have spent in classrooms.

“Even though it’s unfortunate that we have had to learn how to do all these things online and through our main platform, which is Zoom, it’s been really fascinating to see that over the course of a year so much can change,” Shirley said. “Even our youngest students who attended the summer camp or one-on-one tutoring are just extremely fluent in these online technologies.”

Volunteer Tutors Organization also has a GoFundMe page to support educational needs of underprivileged children. Shirley said she’s not sure what the future holds for Volunteer Tutors Organization long term, after she graduates high school and beyond.

“I think it would be a great thing to continue on in the future,” she added.

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