New Tutoring Program STEMS from Shared Interests


They go to a school famous for introducing electricity to a village half a world away in Nepal, but now 11 high school students are conquering a challenge much closer to home: tutoring a group of elementary school students across town in Hartford.
The tutors are from the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology (AEGT), housed at Hartford Public High School. That’s where a team of students two years ago built, tested, and sent to Nepal a wind turbine powerful enough to provide electricity to the remote village of Saldang high in the Himalayas.*
Back home, twice a week, a new team of AEGT students hops a bus for the short jaunt to the Sarah J. Rawson Elementary School in the city’s Blue Hills neighborhood.
It’s a great match because of what the two schools have in common: Both AEGT and Rawson are focused on teaching STEM: science, technology, engineering, and math: and now, the arts.
Rawson is just getting started after it was named the state’s first Lighthouse School by the Connecticut Department of Education. The Lighthouse School project is designed to improve students’ achievement and revitalize their communities.
AEGT’s been at it a little longer and today is seen as a showcase school for its success in academics and preparing students for the real world of work.
What the two schools also share is CBIA’s Education Foundation and a host of community and business partners providing myriad resources and support.
Connecticut desperately needs a strong pipeline of people talented in STEM to become the next generation of workers capable of driving the 21st century economy.
The collaboration between AEGT and Rawson has the potential to build part of that pipeline and create opportunities leading to successful careers for young people.
‘Not a One-Way Street’
And besides, there’s nothing like having a little extra help to get you started.
“The presence of the tutors has been an overwhelmingly positive experience,” says Thessalonia Cobb, third grade teacher at Rawson. “It’s refreshing to see highly intellectual and motivated high school seniors that my students can look up to.”
It’s not a one-way street, says Shari Cousin, CBIA Education Foundation’s project manager at Rawson. “I don’t think the students fully realize the support they’re providing to each other. The high school kids are getting as much out of this as the Rawson kids.”
And it’s not easy. School days for AEGT students run from 7:40 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. That’s when, on tutoring days, the second part of their day begins. Arriving by 3:00 at Rawson, they participate in their students’ classes until 3:45 and tutoring sessions until 5:30.
The tutors help with classwork, homework, and reading assignments and also find time to build in some fun: often through STEM-based games.
It’s still too early to measure the results, but clearly something really good is happening. Friendships are growing, and positive habits are forming.
“Watching the Academy and Rawson students together is such a joy,” says Andrea Comer, executive director of the Education Foundation. “The Academy kids know they are making a difference in the lives of the younger students, and the Rawson kids have someone they can look up to. This is how you create sustainable change and strengthen communities.”
“By taking on this responsibility, AEGT students get to provide a needed service and be a positive role model for younger students,” says Cousin. “All of the students get to learn their strengths. I see this as a win-win.”
* This year, another AEGT team is sending a second delivery of powerful packages to two different Nepali villages.

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