Ronit Bryant has volunteered with Mentor Tutor Connection (MTC) for the past four years. Unfortunately, her tutoring of second and third grade students at Castro Elementary last year was interrupted by the pandemic. Ronit, however, like many other volunteer tutors, has adapted well, tutoring students virtually and maintaining positive connections with her students.
To meet the new challenges and increased demand caused by distance learning, MTC has launched a new Remote Tutoring Program, and trained tutors are supporting students in elementary and middle schools in Mountain View and Los Altos. The program prioritizes students with economic and academic need, delivering individualized academic support online.
Many of MTC tutors utilize an online platform called Bramble which is an effective intermediary between the tutor and student. Ronit meets with her student once each week on Bramble where they can work together on a virtual whiteboard, and each can add, erase, or change anything the other has written or drawn. The boy has taken a strong liking to Bramble and enjoys his sessions with Ronit.
“He is a positive and talkative student,” Ronit said, “and he immediately became quite engaged.” At their first meeting, they drew an elaborate pirate ship, full of sharks and pirates. Ronit provided terms on the board for description and explanation, helping the student to improve his reading and vocabulary. He enjoyed this activity so much that the picture was saved and expanded upon during subsequent meetings. Ronit and her student are so enthusiastic about their sessions together that they will soon increase the frequency of their meetings.
Ronit works closely with the classroom teacher, Ms. Data, who shares areas of needed focus and provides materials so that Ronit can support her student on topics most challenging to him, such as consonant vowel practice sheets. Each week, Ronit provides the teacher an update on her student’s reading comprehension abilities.
Ms. Data is especially pleased that Ronit is helping to build her student’s confidence in his own reading abilities. She said, “With the number of students I have and the amount of minutes in a school day, it is nearly impossible to get much (if any) one-on-one time with a student, to help build up their confidence and catch them up on the steps they have missed along the way. With tutors like Ronit, our students are granted this gift.”
While tutoring online took some time to figure out, Ronit stresses the relative ease of it. She believes this program is providing students with the encouragement and support they need during these difficult times. “I think it’s nice for the kids to know there is someone outside their circle to connect to.”
In addition to the Remote Tutor Program, MTC has also adapted their Mentor Program, which matches local high school students with caring adult mentors. In these unprecedented times of global pandemic and sheltering-in-place, the connection between a mentor and mentee is more valuable than ever. As students struggle to keep up with schoolwork and fight isolation and anxiety about the future, the relationship they have developed with their mentor provides critical connection, emotional support, and access to resources. Our mentors are more engaged than ever to ensure their mentees have the support they need to engage in school and remain hopeful about the future.
In January, MTC will mark its 25th anniversary. For a quarter century, MTC volunteer tutors and mentors have provided students the academic, social and emotional support they need to see their own potential and create a brighter future. If you would like to become a tutor or mentor, or to learn more about MTC, please visit mentortutorconnection.org.