by Danielle D’Souza (Bishop’s ‘13/ Dartmouth ‘17)
One would expect a preparatory school to be fairly empty in the middle of July, but not Nativity Prep Academy (NPA). During the summer Nativity graduates return for a summer session focused on helping them succeed in high school. Graduates of Nativity and students from The Bishop’s School flooded the halls the week of July 8th-12th for five days of intensive tutoring.
The NPA students spent half their day improving their writing skills and the other half learning math concepts. Bishop’s students had the advantage of tutoring the NPA students in small groups, giving the tutors a chance to pass on some of their knowledge, and the students had the unique experience of being taught by other high school students. Many Bishop’s students wanted to participate in the program, so the groups enjoyed a small ratio of about 2:1 that allowed the students and tutors to connect easily.
The writing tutors were led by the Chair of the Bishop’s English Department, Mr. Robert Mulgrew, and the math tutors by a parent volunteer at Bishop’s, Mrs. Mary Meigs.
The writing tutors focused on teaching the NPA students how to use active verbs, employ sensory details, maintain a logical flow in their writing, and structure a thesis-driven essay.
In some groups, students read and analyzed short stories while in others students debated issues of their choice and then individually wrote their own persuasive essays.
NPA alumna Karina Rodriguez (‘12) commented, “Writing papers is hard for me, but now at the end of the summer session I feel more comfortable writing essays.”
One tutor, Sarah Knapp (Bishops ’12/NYU ’17) even taught her students how to write musical poetry and practice spoken word to make the week more enjoyable. Karina added, “The first day of the week when the tutoring started I thought it would be boring, but it ended up being really fun.”
Like the English tutors, the math tutors also divided their students into small groups to customize their activities based on the level of ability. Some tutors played math games while others tackled tricky word problems.
Katherine Rendon (NPA ’13) said that math class each day was her favorite part of the summer session. She enjoyed learning from the older Bishop’s students and noted that the tutors, including recent grads and rising seniors, were well educated, so she wanted to learn from them. Brian Tunnell, (Bishop’s ’13/Notre Dame ‘17), commented, “This week provided not only an amazing opportunity to tutor others in a subject that I enjoy, but also was incredibly rewarding because I got to see the Nativity students grow in their knowledge of math as the week went on.”
This summer, Judy Martinez (NPA ’09/Bishop’s ’13/UCLA ‘17) returned to Nativity as a writing tutor and role model, offering inspiration to younger students who aspire to accomplish what Judy has. Judy expressed her gratitude by saying, “I am indebted to Nativity Prep Academy for my love of learning, my search for growth, and my willingness to give back to the community whenever possible. This was a special experience for me because I had the opportunity to return to my alma mater and teach students with similar backgrounds to mine how to strengthen their writing skills.”
The tutors were impressed both by the hard work the students put in this summer and by Nativity itself. Olivia Lafferty (Bishop’s ’14) observed that, “Many of the kids have big goals for the future and can accomplish them with the hard work and consistency they have shown this week.” Anna Bloom (Bishop’s ’14) commented, “From the moment I walked into Nativity I could tell it was an encouraging environment that fosters a desire for success.”
Both the writing and the math tutors are excited to return next summer.
Mrs. Xochitl Alvarez, Director of Graduate Support, thought the summer session, “was a valuable experience for both the Nativity students and the Bishop’s tutors. They learned from each other and used their summer in a positive way.”