Brighton students volunteer to help their peers

Messenger Post Media
Monroe County Post

When Brighton High School seniors Bhuvana Chimmiri and Delia Zhangfeng saw their peers struggling while trying to learn from home, they decided to establish Rochester Peer Tutoring, which connects students who want to tutor or need help.  

“Rochester Peer Tutoring means a lot to both of us,” Chimmiri said. “We were inspired to start the program after seeing the impact of COVID-19 on students in school. Going to school only two times a week can be challenging and large classes can result in less teacher interaction, which is why we started the organization.” 

Zhangfeng added they “wanted to connect students in different school districts with students in need of a peer mentor who can guide and support them in their course work through one-on-one Zoom tutoring sessions.” 

More than 60 tutoring sessions took place in January. Deena Viviani, young adult and programming services librarian at Brighton Memorial Library, said students in grades 1-12 are taking advantage of the free service. 

“This program has been the most successful young adult-centered program at BML since the pandemic, which is largely due to the fact that it is for teens and kids, but run by teens themselves,” she said. 

Recruitment for tutors and students primarily is by word of mouth. Prospective tutors complete online applications that include questions about accomplishments related to their intended tutoring subject specialties and why they want to participate in the program. 

Core subject areas include math, history, languages and the sciences. Extracurricular activities include coding, science Olympiad subjects, creative writing and the performing arts. 

To date, 28 students from Brighton, Mendon, Harley, Rochester and Pittsford Sutherland in grades 9-12 serve as peer tutors. 

“We train our tutors before they start their tutoring sessions, so sessions have been going really well,” Zhangfeng said. “Each month, the number of volunteer hours logged keeps increasing and tutees give us feedback saying that their tutor is helping them greatly.”

Those interested in receiving help can read a brief bio about each tutor on BML’s website (brightonlibrary.org/teen-education) before signing up for the program. Some tutors have traveled the world and others are active in sports or the arts. Academic interests are listed.

“Parents love the fact that their children can get extra support from other students, so we can say that parents love what we do,” Chimmiri said. “Most importantly, our tutors love what they do and motivate us to work harder every day.”

Chimmiri and Zhangfeng plan to continue the organization after they graduate high school in June. They are creating leadership positions, and meeting with tutors each month to see what is working and what is not. 

“The teens who are doing the tutoring have been through the classes that they are helping others with,” Viviani said. “During the pandemic and lost in-person teaching time, some students are finding it harder to keep up with certain subjects. These peer tutors, who are volunteering their time for free, are helping to fill in that gap.” 

Email rocpeertutor@gmail.com for information.

Stock photo.