CCA students give back by tutoring other kids

A group of Canyon Crest Academy students have set out to help their younger peers find educational success by volunteering for tutoring services on the weekends.

CCA's Tutor Outreach Club was founded last year after the students were influenced by an East Coast nonprofit called Inspire, which works with low-income, underprivileged students to try to help get them into boarding and private schools.

"We wanted to apply this to our community," said Emily Gao, a 16-year-old junior and one of the club's founders. "We thought of the idea to offer private tutoring services for students who may not be able to afford the private tutors."

Each Saturday, the group of 10 CCA students visits The Preuss School at UC San Diego to assist teachers at the enrichment academy. The weekend classes — generally for students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades — are aimed to help students who are failing or struggling in school. Oftentimes, there are 20 students to one teacher, Emily said.

The club has also volunteered to send books to schools in Africa and raised money for school supplies in a community near Tijuana.

Kaila Hogan, a 16-year-old CCA junior, said one of the club's goals is to inspire kids to want to succeed in their classes.

"A lot of times when we used to go [to the Preuss School] they were just super unmotivated," she said. "When we go there now, they're a little bit more excited to see us and they're excited to learn a little bit more."

Emily added that each student has a different learning style, and they have to adapt to that. Because of this, the members said the volunteer work has taught them patience, understanding, how to build their confidence and how to connect with people.

The club's members agree they wanted to help others because of how privileged they have been in their own education.

"It was important to me because I went to this camp at Stanford, and my roommate actually went through the Inspire program," Emily said. "I saw the privilege that we have around us, in terms of education. I've never really had to worry about being able to afford a binder for my new school year or being able to have pens and paper. ... If I was struggling in school, I know my mom would be willing to hire a private tutor for me to learn from. ... I know I won't be able to fix the educational imbalance in the world completely, but just to be able to help is why I wanted to do this."

One of Emily's favorite memories, she said, was working with a boy who had difficulty understanding the volume of cubes. She drew out each cube for him and, after a while, he finally understood and no longer had to guess random numbers.

Connie Chen, a 17-year-old CCA junior, believes participating in the tutoring is beneficial for the club members as well as the students they are helping.

"It's really nice when they finally get it, because they can be frustrated for so long and then they finally understand," she said. "Those are the moments that are very memorable for us."

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