Learn to Be A Tutor


When I get stuck on a difficult trigonometry equation or I’m confused about the velocity of a fly, I can walk up to my teacher in the math core or consult with expert tutors in the Learning Resources Center. Most students, including the fourth-grade girl I tutor, do not have access to this extensive support.

Last year, I began tutoring with Learn To Be, an organization that provides free online tutoring to low-income students. It has been an absolute joy getting to know my student.

She is the most wonderful, motivated elementary schooler, often joining meetings early and pulling out a stack of homework as she tumbles in from the Zoom waiting room.

“It’s getting late where you are,” I told her one session — she lives on the East Coast, three hours ahead. “Let’s stop after this problem.”

“Just five more minutes! I have to finish,” she said, determined to conquer the Pete-The-Cat-themed multiplication sheet. She will quite literally keep at it for hours if I don’t click the “end meeting” button. 

My student works harder and with more discipline than most Lakesiders. She is kind, helpful, perseverant — yet next year, she will enter fifth grade far behind the fifth graders admitted to Lakeside, simply because she lacks the host of advantages (access to a computer, wealthy parents, money for supplemental reading and math instruction, etc.) enjoyed by many Lakesiders. 

Most students, including the fourth-grade girl I tutor, do not have access to this extensive support.

Each and every student in this school possesses the knowledge to help a younger student. As Lakesiders reevaluate their service learning options under the new, stricter requirements, I believe that all Lakeside students should consider volunteering as a tutor. 

Lakeside’s existence inherently contradicts its values of equity and inclusivity. The school provides a select few students who are fortunate enough to be admitted with a rigorous education while others are left behind. I often think about how unfair it is that I have the opportunity to attend Lakeside, participating in international trips and playing in state-of-the-art athletic facilities, while educational inequalities continue to worsen across the country. 

In fact, sometimes I feel overwhelmed at Lakeside because I have too many opportunities. There are so many offerings being thrown my way — fascinating electives, international trips, summer internships — that I find myself feeling stressed by a journalism conference in California or a GSL trip to Fiji when I should feel elated and grateful. Perhaps others feel the same, judging by the fact that less than two-thirds of Lakesiders elect to take a GSL trip.

But, hey, it’s not as if I’m about to give up my spot at Lakeside in protest, nor is Lakeside going to shut its doors in the name of equity.

The least I can do is share my knowledge with a younger student who does not have the opportunity to attend a school like Lakeside.

“How did you get so good at reading?” my student asked one day as I read a page from “Pig the Pug” aloud. It was a good question. How did I get to where I am today? I began to think about all of the people who propelled me to Lakeside. My mom, who took me to library story-time and read me books. My older brother, who helped me as I sounded out words.

“Practice,” I said, shrugging. 

Lakeside students come from a variety of different backgrounds, and some students certainly have more advantages than others, but regardless, every student that has made it to the upper school has been gifted something — whether it be the opportunity to participate in extracurriculars or, like me, having a family that pushed education — that helped get them here. 

I encourage you to share that gift as a tutor.

Interested? Apply to tutor at Learntobe.org or email Lakeside Learn To Be chapter leaders Jennifer F. ’23, Mea S. ’23, and Iris O. ’24 for more information and to join Lakeside’s LTB club.