Everything You Need to Know About After-School Tutoring


Photo: Students gather at the school library to collaborate and help each other.

Agatha Hunnicutt

Getting homework help is easier than ever with West High’s after-school tutoring program! After-school tutoring is open every Monday through Thursday 3:30-5:00 in the library. Kathy Barnard, a teacher here at West, has been running the program for 6 years and is still impressed by our West students and tutors every day. If you’re looking for help in any subject, there’s a tutor to help you out. This year, there are over 50 student tutors and 3 tutors from the University of Utah. The program is completely free and open to any West students, so, as Ms. Barnard puts it, “there’s really no excuse to not get help on your homework.”

I went to the library one day to see what the tutoring program is like. I was surprised by the number of people who came. Right after school, most of the library tables were full; some students were working or studying on their own while other students were helping each other or working as a group. While I was there, I talked to Ms. Barnard to learn more about the program and what it’s like on a daily basis: “This is the best thing I see at West High. Supporting students is really rewarding. (Pointing to groups around the library) We’ve got a couple over there who are helping a student who’s an English-language learner. There’s a group over here who’s speaking together for their IB world language exam. And there are students who are helping with math and chemistry. It’s just really amazing to watch what happens here.”

This program can be highly beneficial for the students that take advantage of it, but it’s also a great tool for teachers and parents. Teachers can refer their students to the program to get them whatever assistance they need. And for parents, it’s a reliable and easily accessible resource. That’s a big part of why Ms. Barnard enjoys working with the program: “Before I was a teacher here at West, I had a child who needed some chemistry help. And as a mom, I didn’t know where to get help, and her teacher didn’t know where to get help. When I came here and I started doing this, being able to tell parents ‘Here’s where you can get calculus help,’ for me as a mom and a teacher, that was huge.”

I was interested in how the program became as big as it is now. “When I came [to West], there was just one tutor and they would come to my room and it was very small; there were maybe 2, 3, 4 people every day. A few years ago, one of the students came to me and said ‘What if we make this into a student club?’ And we always had students who were here and wanted to help, so together, we made it into a club. Now we have the capacity to help many more students.“

Tutors can get a lot out of this program; they get service hours just for being there and ready to help someone. Tutors gain significant academic practice from teaching others and reviewing past material. The tutors are from a range of grades since “Anyone who has something to give can be a tutor,“ according to Ms. Barnard. I had the opportunity to talk to Lam Nguyen, one of the college student tutors. I asked: “What’s the best thing about helping here?” He responded: “Interacting with students and knowing I can help them through their classes and hopefully on their way to graduation.” Ms. Barnard also added, “To help someone graduate means everything.” Lam has been a tutor at West for a long time, and for good reason. “It’s been a very positive experience. Not only interacting with students of all ages to help them, but also making new friends, both with the student tutors and the other college students.”

Last year during online school, after-school tutoring was still happening. Everyday after school, Ms. Barnard would start a Zoom call and let students in to help each other and study together. Despite the state of the pandemic, there were over 100 online student tutors last year. Though most participating students are using the school library this year, the Zoom room is still open after school Monday through Thursday. So even if you’re stuck at home or not comfortable with attending after-school clubs, you can get homework help. To access the Zoom meeting yourself, go to the ‘West High Tutoring’ course on canvas. All West students should automatically have this course, but if you don’t, email Ms. Barnard ([email protected]) and she will add you.

After-school tutoring is a really great program that gives students the opportunity to get help on school work, teach and learn from one another, get service hours, and meet new people. Ms. Barnard loves what the program is today: “I think one of the coolest things I see here everyday is just the goodness of the students at West High; I get to see west high students helping each other. That is powerful.“