Dalai Lama Fellows

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Student to Student (STS)

Location

New York, NY

Compassion in Action Project Mission Statement

Student to Student is a program that levels the playing field for under-resourced, low-income middle schools who wish to gain entry into New York City’s elite specialized high school by providing academic resources they would otherwise not be able to afford. By providing individualized SHSAT tutoring to under-resourced students, Student to Student will allow each pupil to recognize and reach their fullest potential despite systemic economic disadvantages.

The Problem

Student to Student aspires to change the rigid inequalities in urban education both immediately and systematically. In the short term, Student to Student serves low-income middle school students by providing necessary SHSAT preparation to gain entry into one of NYC’s top-performing specialized high schools. Admission into one of these schools gives low-income students access to a higher quality of education and increased career and academic outcomes after graduation.

Compassion-in-Action

Student to Student (STS) provides six weeks of free summer SHSAT tutoring and transportation to low-income rising 8th graders in NYC. Students take courses in test subjects (math and verbal comprehension) as well as an academic mentoring course. The latter exposes students to untapped resources, discusses effective study skills and habits, highlights different learning styles, and engages them in various high school and college preparation methods and research. The desired outcome for STS participants is not just higher SHSAT scores; we push students to become more well-rounded, take academic ownership and confidence, and realize their full potential in and outside of the classroom.

Class sizes consist of no more than 10 students and are taught by current NYU students, most of which are education majors. In addition to personalized attention in the classroom three times a week, Student to Student also provides online tutoring twice a week. All tutors are required to become mentors to their students, establishing more meaningful and positive relationships.

In the long-term, STS plans to attain 501(c)3 legal status and expand services such as academic workshops on a sliding scale fee basis. STS is also working on creating an educational tech platform that will connect and enable parents, teachers, and school admins to collaborate towards student progress and achievement. Optimized for tablet-use, our platform will integrate lesson plans and games customized to a student’s learning style, allowing educators to meet student needs. Instant feedback and analytics make lessons even more personalized.

What universal value from Tiling the Soil do you feel is essential to your project, and why?

Mindfulness and compassion, and story-telling are most aligned with Student to Student’s overall mission. It is crucial to understand that all individuals have their own reality and what we consider to be commonplace may be a privilege for others. For these middle school students, entrance to a specialized high school means a different life trajectory and better outcomes for them and possibly their communities. Our project is based on understanding, encouragement, and collaboration. Therefore, we strive to have our tutors adopt this mindset in their classrooms as we are not just raising test scores, but enabling students to pursue a path towards success despite their disadvantages. Our tutors will provide support and mentorship that will leave our students feeling confident, comfortable, and responsible for their education. We want to illustrate that our project is committed to helping these students as much as possible. We are walking alongside them on this path towards success and we want to serve as possible role models. Story-telling is vital to our continued impact – success stories, surveys, and testimonials are ways to reach out and engage students of need, giving them the encouragement to participate in Student to Student. Our ability to tell stories and relate them to others will allow us to impact more students and form lasting partnerships with schools.