PAL Tutoring Club adapts to virtual learning model

Caroline Collins and Lily McGuire

Student Center at WHS where PAL tutoring used to be held every Wednesday. (Photo by Hi’s Eye Staff)

The Police Athletic League Tutoring program was created by Ronald Allen, a former student resource officer at WHS and typically meets on Wednesday afternoons in the student center. WHS Assistant Principal Warren Hynes, who is an advisor for the club, said, “it was a quiet place and comfortable atmosphere where students could go to work on homework assignments for a couple of hours.” During the COVID-19 school shut down last year, PAL Tutoring ran virtually. There were a lot of students because many had been involved in the program during the beginning of the school year as well.

This year has brought many changes though, and the PAL Tutoring program has transitioned fully to a virtual platform through WebEx. Students and tutors use breakout rooms and functions like sharing their screens to help one another. 

One of PAL Tutoring’s objectives this year has been to preserve the personal connections between students, even though they are meeting online rather than in-person. Math Teacher Scott Rutherford runs the National Honors Society, which provides tutors for younger students. According to Rutherford, the best part about PAL is that “sometimes things click when other students explain something in a different way than their teacher might, and I think having that secondary resource there is extremely beneficial.” 

According to Hynes, the greatest challenge this year has been getting younger students to attend the tutoring sessions. Rutherford agreed with Hynes and said, “Right now, I think the biggest obstacle that we have is getting engagement from the younger students as well as the older students to come together and help each other out.” 

One special incentive of joining the PAL Tutoring program in the past was that at each meeting, there would be pizza for the students and tutors. In order to preserve this tradition during COVID-19, when a student attends four sessions a pizza will be delivered to their house. 

Although the changes that come with an online platform can provide inconveniences, going fully virtual hasn’t been as difficult as initially anticipated. WHS senior Emma Jepsen assists with tutoring and saw some positives to the online experience. “Having the screen sharing feature available on WebEx makes it so much easier to see what problem the student is having trouble on,” said Jepsen. Additionally, students have been able to utilize breakout rooms to talk about different problems and share ideas, and this has maintained the sense of community that is so important to PAL tutoring.

PAL Tutoring is open to students in middle through high school and runs every Wednesday. Students who are a part of NHS are encouraged to volunteer as tutors, and students who are looking for an opportunity to collaborate with peers and get extra help are encouraged to attend. 

If you are interested in getting more information or getting involved with the club in any way, please contact Mr. Hynes for more information: [email protected].