Kinkaid Junior Creates Web-based Solution to Teachers’ Childcare Responsibilities
*This piece was first published in The Kinkaid Falcon and modified for School Buzz.*
The educational world entered a new phase of distance learning last spring, a time that brought several new concepts and struggles to the forefront of daily life. Teachers with children struggled to balance developing a novel curriculum and entertaining the younger members of their family.
According to Henry Segal, a junior at The Kinkaid School, it was not uncommon to see "the teacher's kids run up behind them, interrupting the class...which is understandable considering that the younger kids’ distance learning program was heavily adult-dependent."
In late April, Henry decided to come up with a solution to this dilemma. He spoke with his friends and created Student-Teacher, a mentoring program with a simple website that serves as a resource for students and teachers on how to get started. The concept behind the program, as Segal explained it, is that high school students are paired with teachers' children (aged three to 12) for free, 30-minute sessions.
"It took about two weeks to start Student-Teacher," Segal said. "I worked with the Kinkaid Upper School administration, and by the end of the first week, I had over 40 volunteers. It worked incredibly for a week, so I decided to let some New York and California friends know. Both of them got Student-Teacher running in their schools within a week."
Henry said the spring season was packed with about 50 sessions a week, and he has "lost track of how many teachers [he has] helped."
Segal also says he learned the art of persistence and bettered his organization skills in setting up this venture.
"I made dozens of cold calls to news stations and press companies, hoping someone would pick up,” he said. “If they didn't, I tried again. I also had to organize the program better to allow enough time to complete my schoolwork.”
Mrs. Sarah Shea, a science teacher in the Kinkaid Upper School, was very appreciative of Student-Teacher; she had a wonderful experience with the program.
"My daughter got help with some writing assignments that she needed to submit for school and even got art lessons from one of the most accomplished artists in our Upper School!” she said. “Bryan Akin [a junior at The Kinkaid School] would lead hour-long science experiences for my son, complete with a lesson, videos, and experiments to try at home. It was amazing to see one of my former science students teaching my son to love science!"
Student-Teacher is back, adjusted and improved, for the fall semester. One of the adjustments necessary for this school year was an increase in the number of time slots. High school students can now register to “babysit” from 2:30 p.m to 5 p.m. as well as during school hours (for those with free periods). Segal is also looking into innovative ways to continue the program even when distance-learning ends.
Henry encourages all high school students to apply as a student mentor to the Student-Teacher program. Student-Teacher is accepting applications on a rolling basis, and the program will continue throughout the school year.
"I think everyone benefits from this. The child who is being paired with a student gets to learn without any distractions from a cool high-schooler, and the volunteers also benefit because you can learn a lot just from teaching," Segal said.
If you’d like to register your school with Student-Teacher, click here. Once your school is set up, high school students can fill out a form to volunteer as a student mentor. Contact Henry at [email protected] with any questions.
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