Falcon Family Peer Tutoring Program offers student guidance for maneuvering tough classes

September 30, 2021 — by Sarah Zhou and Atrey Desai
Photo by Anjali Pai

When struggling with a class or looking for test preparation support, students often turn to expensive testing centers like Mathnasium and Elite Prep for help. On average, students will spend between $25 to $80 an hour for private tutoring, with some high-end tutors costing upwards of $200 per hour, according to NBC news.

In an effort to discourage families from needing to rely on these programs, principal Greg Louie started the Falcon Family Peer Tutoring Program last October. 

The program meets from Monday through Friday after school in the Student Center from 4-5 p.m. and during tutorial. Volunteer students are a mix of sophomores, juniors and seniors; subjects covered range from geometry to Chinese. 

Louie said the program was inspired by the SAINTLY Tutors Program, which he had previously established during his time as principal at Santa Teresa High School. Over the course of a year, the SAINTLY Tutoring program helped more than 100 students.

Though the nearly year-old Falcon Family Peer Tutoring program is still working on establishing credibility within the community, the program has received over 60 tutor requests in the past two years and Louie ultimately hopes to achieve the same level of student participation as Saintly’s Tutoring program.

The goal of the tutoring program is to provide accessible academic support for students.

“[Saratoga students] have a history of depending upon adult and outside tutoring organizations; our students and teachers are ultimately the best aides for our students who have needs,” Louie said.

This year, the program is offering both one-on-one services and group tutoring to SHS and Redwood Middle School students. Unlike last year’s fully virtual program, tutees can request to meet either on Zoom or in-person after school, Louie said.

Tutors, including senior Shreyas Rana, have found that providing an in-person tutoring option has allowed students to feel more comfortable asking for help. 

“I feel like [in-person tutoring] is more open and natural for students to come in and ask questions, and it seems easier to talk with them because it’s like a friendly conversation,” he said. “Online, it feels a little forced and it’s harder to get ideas across.” 

Though few students took advantage of the online tutoring room option last year, more are taking advantage of it this year. The program currently has 13 active tutors, and over 30 students from both SHS and Redwood Middle School have filled out a tutor request form for a tutor. 

Tutors have joined the program for various reasons, ranging from wanting to be a community volunteer to feeling a sense of civic responsibility. Junior Arav Panchmatia said he joined as a tutor to ensure that underclassmen can have a stress-free homework experience.  

Although this is his first year as a tutor, Panchmatia, who tutors in math, physics and computer science, has already implemented a teaching style based on the Socratic method: He aims to ask guiding questions and, when his tutee gets stuck,  share his own interpretation of the problem to help them understand how they should approach it. 

Due to an influx of demand for tutoring at the beginning of the school year, Louie is planning on expanding the program to provide support for the tutoring center, tutorial periods and Academic Tutor elective. He also hopes to recruit new tutors for the program after the current tutors build up a routine. 

“It’s a balance between trying to help the students and trying to not completely ruin their learning system,” said junior Lisa Fung, who tutors in Spanish, chemistry and math. “I’ve learned a lot about how other people work and how I can help them.”