The school values strong, interpersonal bonds in and out of the classroom.
Still, connections between the divisions of grade schooling in the lower, middle, and upper schools are limited. Fortunately, the new Academic Mentorship Program (AMP) has shown promising results.
The AMP, founded just last year by Sixth Formers Owen Yu, Arnav Sardesai, and Joey Kauffman, bridges the gap between middle and upper-school students through academic tutoring. Upper-school students take time before school and during free periods to teach assigned middle school advisories in curriculum-related subjects like reading, math, science, and language, as well as time management and organizational skills.
The group maintains an exhaustive application process for upper-school students wanting to become tutors. First, students write three one-hundred-fifty word answers to prompts about the student’s desire to tutor, academic abilities that would help with tutoring, and level of accountability. The second piece of the application requires candidates to create a five-minute video demonstrating a skill.
According to math teacher Mr. Matt Ator, the accountability piece of the written application, as well as the demonstrative video, is a unique addition.
“It’s most important to us to see how you explain things,” Mr. Ator said.
Last year, AMP’s first, the program struggled with attendance for tutors following winter break, possibly due to midterm burnout and vacation. This year, the group promoted transparency about weekly time required for AMP tutors—at least one free period per week for every tutor.
As a program, AMP hopes to help students adjust to higher levels of academic workload and the organizational skills anyone might need. AMP takes the experience one step further.
Tutors talk to middle school advisories about not just academics, but about the upper school experience. The conversations can involve anything, from the difficulty of courses to the availability of outside resources to nice places to work, relax, or spend time with peers.
By giving middle school students this kind of insider information, upper school tutors form bonds with the younger students. The relationship assumes an older-to-younger brother dynamic, where the older and wiser students look out for the younger students while still holding strong expectations.
Above all else, “making a connection with upper school boys” is by far the most important piece for middle school students according to middle school reading teacher Ms. Karen Suter.
“ The middle school sometimes gets jumped over with planning for interdivisional projects [between the upper school and the lower school],” Ms. Suter said, “and we just kind of are here. The middle school faculty really love the idea of the upper-school boys coming down to be mentors for the younger guys.”