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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

General Tutoring builds better futures

Published: November 14, 2014
Section: Features

General Tutoring is a club under the umbrella of Waltham Group that partners children of all ages in the greater Waltham area with Brandeis students for free one-on-one tutoring in a variety of subjects, ranging from math and reading to SAT/ACT prep. The organization was founded more than 30 years ago. Currently, more than 100 Brandeis students volunteer with General Tutoring, which serves more than 100 students in the Waltham public schools.

General Tutoring sessions take place once a week on the Brandeis campus. Interested members of the Waltham community may sign up for the program and will subsequently be put in contact with a Brandeis student. Tutors coordinate with tutees and their parents to arrange convenient meeting times. General Tutoring endows volunteers with a great amount of freedom, and volunteers are encouraged to coordinate personally with students and their families.

“[The coordinators] usually act as a third party that oversees the relationship between the volunteer and the student,” Coordinator Erick Yeung ’15 said. He explained that the Brandeis students involved with the program “provide tutoring services with a high level of professionalism.”

Over the years, General Tutoring has developed in-depth training sessions to aid volunteers in their work. Workshops provide them with skills to better their performance as tutors and teach them how to handle a variety of situations, both expected and irregular.

General Tutoring has a strong partnership with many members of the Waltham community, and the group has received overwhelming positive feedback from both students and parents. General Tutoring has a good reputation in the Waltham community and “parents often refer family and friends to the program,” said Yeung.

The program has built relationships with community partners such as Waltham High School, and in the past, General Tutoring has even arranged mock SAT exams. The group seeks to provide Waltham students access to services and experiences they may not otherwise have.

Yeung himself began tutoring children in high school and joined General Tutoring once at Brandeis to continue his passion for it. “I always thought of it as an opportunity to give back to the community,” Yeung said.

“As a tutor attempts to explain a concept, he or she will hopefully be able to inspire the student and grow as an individual in terms of developing effective communication and understanding the material from different perspectives,” said Yeung, explaining the important relationship between tutors and their students. Yeung sees the benefits of tutoring on all sides of the equation, from Brandeis to Waltham and from teacher to student.

“Not only are we able to help the students, but this experience prompts us to self-reflect and understand ourselves even more in the process,” he assessed.

Upon joining General Tutoring, Yeung worked with high school students on SAT prep and enjoyed the experience immensely. He felt as though he wanted to do more for the program and the Waltham community as a whole. This led him to became a coordinator his sophomore year at Brandeis. “Being a coordinator for General Tutoring allowed me to interact with other coordinators in Waltham Group and further appreciate the different ways in which Brandeis volunteers are making a difference in the community.”

It is clear that General Tutoring has a major impact on the community members it serves. Cardinally, the children involved in General Tutoring enjoy their time spent learning and connecting with Brandeis students. The kids view their tutors as role models, friends and mentors. The tutors genuinely care for the children they work with and as a result, “Many [children], along with parents, love to ask tutors for guidance in order to benefit the student’s future,” Yeung said.

Providing children with hopeful, promising futures is the goal of General Tutoring. In Waltham there is a large education gap, illustrated by standardized test scores, for example. General Tutoring is focused on bridging this gap.

“Some parents, some families cannot afford private tutors. Their next generation shouldn’t be suffering because of this lack of resources,” said Yeung.