GRAPHIC BY ARYN LEE
For many middle school students new to Brookline, it can be important to have an outlet for their struggles throughout middle school. For students involved in the Brookline Tutor Mentor Program, this outlet can be found in their connection with their tutor.
The relationships cultivated between mentors and their students created through the program not only have a profound impact on the lives of the middle school students but also on the mentors.
The Brookline Tutor Mentor Program pairs Brookline middle school students with tutors from the high school. The program meets from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Brookline Teen Center on Sundays. The program aims to foster a older-sibling-like relationship between the students and tutors that can be substantially helpful for both parties.
Over this past year, the heads of the program, junior Dani Coyle and senior Anjoli Mathew, have expanded and thoroughly reorganized the program.
“It’s very different this year,” Mathew said. “We’re expecting to have a much larger community, a much larger base and much better organization. We will actually have proper structure in the program.”
Last year, the program also saw a lot of growth. The number of tutor-mentor pairs skyrocketed from just eight to 70 since the year before.
Along with the increase in numbers, Coyle and Mathew are hoping to add to the depth of the tutor-student relationship.
“Part of our program is we have ‘play time’ where they have games, arts and crafts so they can bond and they can feel comfortable with each other,” Coyle said.
When junior Sellina Yoo first joined the program in 7th grade, this bonding aspect of the program was particularly important for her.
“My relationship with my mentor was really special for me because I didn’t know anyone, and she was probably the only person I could talk to for around six months,” Yoo said.
Yoo continued to share this connection with her tutor even after they stopped tutoring. Now as a mentor in the program herself, Yoo puts the friendship aspect of her tutoring relationships first.
“I try to relate to the student before I become a tutor ,so I’m more of a friend than a tutor,” Yoo said.
Yoo describes the relationship with her old mentor as similar to the relationship between a younger and older sibling. This is exactly what Mathew and Coyle want mentors and students to get out of the program.
“Our goal is to have a tutor that acts like a big sibling so they are able to help with homework and they are able to be an authority figure of sorts,” Mathew said.
Beyond just community service hours, this sibling relationship can also benefit the mentor in profound ways. For Yoo, her experience mentoring in the program has helped her be able to reach out for help in classes at the high school.
“I understand that my teachers are actually there to help instead of only teach the class,” Yoo said.
The program also helps mentors develop important skills that can help them throughout their lives.
“I think that it’s a good experience with communication and taking responsibility because you really have to communicate with the student that you’re tutoring and their parents,” Coyle said.
Coyle and Mathew have done a number of things to improve the program and ensure it will be organized and effective year. In the coming year, they hope to pair relationships that will benefit both parties and foster the older-sibling-like role model.
“I’m really, really excited for what this next year has to offer,” Mathew said. “We have done a lot of work for the program.”