For over two decades, Hopkins students have tutored at the Davis Academy. Davis Academy, a magnet school for students in pre-K through eighth grade located in Upper Westville, focuses on design innovation and the arts. According to Classics teacher John Anderson, the program point person, Hopkins tutors are assigned to K to fourth-grade classrooms. Students assist teachers in a variety of tasks: Anderson, the explains that tutors will “be working intently with one or two students or [students] may be floating around the classroom while children are working and helping with questions as things come up.”
Tutors must adapt to the circumstances of each student. Isabel Clare ’23, a current third-grade tutor for the program, says, “One of my biggest takeaways is that it is extremely hard to be a teacher… I have learned a lot about how to engage students who maybe aren't super interested in the subject they are learning, and how to push students to find an answer without just giving it to them or frustrating them.” Jackson Mokotoff ’25, also a third-grade tutor, has a similar experience: “The biggest struggle working with younger kids is formulating your explanation to their level of understanding.” Mokotoff says, “For example, one kid struggled with multiplying through grouping. At first, I explained by stating they needed to break it down into smaller pieces, a concept I would learn they didn't fully understand yet. Upon realizing this, I broke it down a step further and showed them how you can rewrite something like 6 x 4 into 4 x 2 x 3.”
Hopkins tutors at the Davis Academy are also exposed to the personal struggles of students. Anderson says, “Sometimes kids have a bad day though and can benefit from a little extra kindness. Some years we have tutored on Friday afternoons when some kids are beginning to worry about not receiving full breakfasts and lunches the next couple of days, as they won't be getting those meals at school.”
Clare has also faced challenges: “I'll often work one-on-one with a student who has been disruptive in the classroom and isn't paying attention. When they do focus, it’s clear that they know the material, but they don't focus for long, and it can be frustrating to see because I just don't know how to keep them engaged in their work.” She continues, “It's been hard for me to walk away, but I have to keep reminding myself that I only spend an hour with these kids a week and don't know what goes on in their lives outside of school that may cause distractions in school.”
The vibrant personalities of the students make the job of tutoring worth the struggle. Clare enjoys the lively environment: “I always look forward to Wednesdays because I absolutely love being there -- the energy in the classrooms is infectious, and the kids always have interesting stories to tell.” Anderson recalls one time in particular: “I remember one Hopkins student several years ago receiving a marriage proposal from a first-grader.”
Tutors also note the dichotomy of the students and teachers. While in the classroom, Olivia DeGregorio ’24, a tutor, says, “I have to be serious and matter-of-fact with the teachers but more friendly and patient with the students.
The program has only just been reinstated, but the tutors are already excited about the opportunity. Beyla Ridky ’24, a first-time tutor, explains, “I tutor at my Hebrew School and love working with the younger kids, so I thought this might be a different chance to do something similar.” Clare raves about the experience, “I love working with kids and believe strongly in the power of education! I cannot recommend this experience enough.”