NPA graduates work with Bishop’s students to hone writing and math skills

NPA graduates work with Bishop’s students to hone writing and math skills

by Kai Mateo, The Bishop’s School, Class of 2013

Energy permeated the hallways and classrooms of Nativity Prep during the week of July 9thas small groups of Nativity alumni strengthened their reading and writing skills with the help of tutors from The Bishop’s School (La Jolla, CA). At the invitation of Judy Halter, a longtime Nativity supporter and current Board member who is also a Bishop’s parent, Mr. Robert Mulgrew, chair of Bishop’s English department, guided a team of seven student tutors throughout the week. Mixing a variety of short activities with informal instruction and large blocks of time for actual writing, the tutors taught the rising freshmen and sophomores the stages of the writing process, grammar, reading skills, and editing, and Nativity’s alums used these skills to write and revise compositions throughout the week.

Mr. Robert Mulgrew (far right) observes Nativity alumns Jonathan Martinez and Julio Magana working with their writing tutor from The Bishop’s School.

The rising freshmen reflected on their transitions from NPA to high school and then wrote about both the excitement and anxiety of this next stage of their educations, and the rising sophomores researched and wrote about topics of their own choice. Thanks to the 1:1 and 1:2 ratios in the tutoring groups, some students were able to pursue different kinds of papers. For instance, after Anthony, a rising sophomore, expressed interest in science fiction, his tutor helped him plan and write his own science fiction story, while some rising freshmen chose to write “This I Believe” essays modeled on the National Public Radio project of several years ago. Other topics included football, the history of apple pie, and different cultures’ attitudes towards body-piercing.

Even though the ability levels of the alumni varied and the tutors were all new to this kind of work, everyone–alumni and tutors alike–improved by the end of the week. The Nativity alums practiced some basic principles of sound writing that ought to serve them well throughout high school, and the Bishop’s students realized they have to brush up their own knowledge of grammar before they can teach it to anyone else. Perhaps most important, good friendships developed in all the tutoring groups. The Bishop’s students, eager to return to Nativity, were unanimous in their one recommendation for next summer: make it longer! In the words of Dan Forssman (Bishop’s ’14), “I feel indebted to the students for the happiness, appreciation, and learning that I myself experienced during the short time I had with them. I really discovered the difference between community service and serving the community. Nativity Prep genuinely serves the community.”

The students from Bishop’s cannot wait to return.

Two additional components of the summer prep curriculum included a weeklong math seminar—taught by Nativity volunteer tutor Mrs. Mary Meigs, her son Mike, and Bishop’s student Addy Chang—focusing on pre-algebra review and algebra prep; and the other was a weeklong writing seminar for our rising 12th graders on college-essay preparation, taught by Nativity Board member and volunteer Mrs. Judy Halter, volunteer Catherine Lane, and Mrs. Halter’s son Ben Halter.

We are very grateful to all of our summer volunteers for their ongoing efforts to support our graduates on the road to college.

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