With class time giving way to testing and class sizes increasing, students and teachers have fewer chances to work closely. Fortunately, there’s a little-known resource ready to help students in the second floor science wing.
The Shaker Heights High School Academic Resource Center first opened its doors in the 1980s. Back then, it was called the tutoring center. The name change occurred recently, when retired health teacher Hubert McIntyre became supervisor.
“I wanted to change it to make it a little more user-friendly,” said McIntyre, who wanted to make sure that the space was available for students who need assistance with academic questions outside of particular classes. “Questions that they would come in with might not necessarily be centered around a problem, but still reflected academic issues,” he said. The ARC’s goal is to help students learn how to study, not just provide assistance with difficult assignments.
The ARC is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4-6 p.m. in Room 254; students may also use the computer lab across the hall in Room 258 from 3-6 p.m.
McIntyre said that the ARC offers an open atmosphere for students seeking assistance. “If you need help, fine. If you need assistance, there’s someone there that’s more than willing to help you, and the tutors are very inviting in regards to that respect,” he said.
Junior Cielle Brady visits every Tuesday and Wednesday and loves the center. “It’s that personal kind of hands-on learning environment,” she said.
“I like how I get my work done more and I feel more focused here,” said junior Hannah Givens. “I like the environment around here. It’s quiet.”
McIntyre said students can receive help in diverse subjects. “Every day we have math and science,” he said. “Foreign language varies, but with the other courses, it doesn’t matter because the tutors are well versed in many subjects.” Students can get help in classes that tutors have taken.
Senior Declan O’Connor is one of the 12 tutors who work in the center. “I primarily help with math and science, although I can help with Chinese,” he said.
When the tutoring center began, tutors were all teachers. However, once McIntyre became the manager, he started to involve students as well. “It really became pretty evident to me that the students were really capable of helping; the upperclassmen, the Advanced Placement students, were really capable of working with the ninth graders and the tenth-grade students,” he said.
“It’s a good way for the older students in high school to give back,” said senior ARC tutor Maria Suresh. “For the students who have made use of the program, it has been helpful, but I don’t really think many students know about it or try it out,” she said.
Tutors are chosen from a pool of students in calculus classes. Teachers give recommendations to McIntyre, who then interviews them when school begins. “We have a couple days of training where we do a lot of role-playing situations with types of issues that might occur and giving them a chance to get together as a team,” McIntyre said. This school year, four of the 12 tutors are scheduled to work each night.
“One of the main goals is to get the word out to students that there is a place that is a quiet place where you can do your work,” McIntyre said. He stressed the importance of the ARC being available and providing a resource for students before they go home.
The ARC’s biggest challenge is attracting students. “There’s a misconception that it’s only tutoring, but it’s available to anyone, and anyone can come in as a place to just do their work,” Senior tutor Rakhsha Khatri said.
The student staff and McIntyre have tried various ways to inform students about the opportunity to use the ARC to their advantage. “We have been advertising a lot — for example, in conferences and having posters and announcements — but it’s still the same,” Khatri said.
“It’s here for us, and it’s a shame that not a lot of people take advantage of it,” Brady said.
“I think there’s always room for inviting new kids to come in, and the tutors are excellent; they’re very excited about being apart of the program, so it’s a win-win situation,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre added that the center is also a very important to the tutors because reviewing is learning again, and getting the opportunity to teach fellow students helps to build a strong foundation.
Khatri said, “It’s a good experience because I get to see how I am applying my previous knowledge, and then when I’m trying to help these students, I kind of realize that I do know the material from the previous years.”
“It’s helped me learn the subjects better since I just know how to do it, but knowing why it works and explaining it to other people has helped me realize that myself,” O’Connor said.
“More students can come into it and utilize this resource that’s available to anyone for free, and it allows a time to get your work done or use the computer lab, which is available to everyone,” Khatri said.
McIntyre said, “Students always feel welcomed to be there, because that’s why we’re there.”