Chuck Kuepfer, Staff Reporter
A region-wide tutoring service for students in Gr. 7-12 that also helps international students and newcomers to Canada with English as a second language continues to expand.
Tutoring Beyond Borders was founded in 2010 by Brenda Lee, a University of Waterloo student who wanted to make tutoring accessible for everyone.
“When I was in high school my friends couldn’t afford tutoring,” said Lee. “I opted to do it for free.”
Private tutoring services can cost $50 or more per hour, Lee said.
“Not many people can afford it,” she said.
Since its humble beginnings, the organization has gained charitable status and has grown to involve more than 70 tutors, mostly university students, who have helped more than 150 students in the community.
“For every person we help, for the appreciation they show us, it kind of motivates us to help other people,” said Lee, who runs the program and is also a full-time student.
Word of mouth has helped grow demand for TBB’s service, which was first advertised on Kijiji.
“After several successful tutoring sessions, the word just kind of spread,” said Lee.
Students from St. Jacobs and Elmira have been among those who taken advantage of the free one-on-one tutoring sessions, which are held in public places, often local libraries.
Lee estimates about 80 per cent of the students who have used the service have been able to improve their grades. Others students have maintained averages as subjects get more difficult in higher grades.
Tutoring is available for any academic subject, although there is more demand for some subjects over others.
“A lot of students struggle with math,” said Stephen Lim, VP of operations. “The majority of our students lack the basic fundamentals. We really work hard to build their self-confidence.”
Lim said students often don’t get one-on-one support at school, and may be afraid to ask questions if they don’t understand a subject.
Along with helping a student with their homework, tutors can offer advice from their own educational experiences, which can be of further help for younger students.
“We can kind of act as mentors,” said Lim, who has also worked as teacher’s assistant and online tutor.
The organization currently has 40 applicants waiting for a tutor, and new tutors, who must obtain a police records check, are always welcome.
TBB currently has three full-time co-op students working for the organization. The unpaid co-op terms give university students an opportunity to gain entrepreneurial and management experience while providing a free service to the community.
As well, the organization has introduced a graduate school scholarship program for tutors, which it hopes to grow.
Lee said TBB has initiated a sponsorship and donation campaign as it looks to expand the program, as well as toward the future. A long-term goal is to have their own facility, equipped with computers and printers to helped disadvantaged students who may not have access to such technology at home.
For more information or to apply online, visit www.tutoring-beyond-borders.com.