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PeerLab Tutoring

Aman Mistry, Jonathan Chung, and Justin Hippler

During the pandemic, three Smithtown High School East juniors recognized their fellow students needed a helping hand when it came to their studies.

Aman Mistry, Jonathan Chung and Justin Hippler started PeerLab Tutoring for high school students in the pandemic and have extended help to those in middle school. The one-on-one tutoring is free of charge, and to stay healthy during the pandemic, virtual.

Chung said the three recognized that some students were struggling with remote learning and knew during the pandemic was a good time to start offering virtual tutoring.

“Some students may have difficulty adapting,” he said.

He added the tutors are ready to help with schoolwork or studying for a test.

The three said that, in general, paying for tutoring can become expensive, even if only seeking an hour of help.

After a student interested in tutoring fills out the form on the website [see below], the student is matched with a tutor who can help them. The tutor and student are connected so they can email each other directly. Currently, 40 high school tutors are offering their services for free through the service and, in return, they receive community service hours. So far, the tutors have conducted 120 sessions and helped more than 30 students in Suffolk County.

Mistry said tutors are in AP and honors classes.

“We made sure that they had an A-minus or above in the class they wanted to tutor,” Mistry said.

They have found that students respond well to receiving tutoring from a peer and think they may be less intimidated talking to a high school student than an adult.

“They’re more like a role model for them — to have someone that went through the same classes that you went through and succeeded,” Hippler said. “So, they have their own experiences that they can share, also strategies and techniques.”

Next week the high school juniors will return to school in-person full time as the Smithtown Central School District is in the process of returning all secondary students to the classroom in phases. Elementary students returned in October. Tutoring through PeerLab will continue to be virtual.

“For right now, we do want to keep it virtual to keep it safe, and even with going back to school, we know a lot of kids have gotten really behind in their classes because they might not be able to pay attention as well virtually,” Mistry said, adding a lot of big tests are coming up such as AP exams and Regents.

The three encourage students to reach out for help when struggling with studies.

“Take advantage of the opportunities you have, if you are struggling always reach out for help. There’s nothing wrong with asking other people for help. And, you know, finding opportunities,” Mistry said.

Hippler agreed.

“You always have a community behind you, and whether you think you’re the only one struggling, you just got to know that there’s other people in the same boat as you,” he said. “And we all just want to help each other get better and get out of that struggle.”

For more information, visit peerlabtutoring.wixsite.com/network.