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The Power of Connection: A WJHA Tutoring Case Study

November 28, 2017 12:02 pm by TNYF Staff Dynamic Featured Image

by Nick Sasaki

When I was first asked to take on the role of high school tutor, I was both happy and a little hesitant. I didn’t have much experience at the time and wasn’t sure how to relearn the curriculum. Slowly I began learning and I spent a lot of time skating with high school students. The biggest challenge in the first year was getting the students to see me as something other than a hockey coach. That was the year that I met a quiet, shy girl that always sat in the back corner of the classroom. She always had her nose in a book or was working on a piece of art. Try as I might to engage her in conversation she wanted nothing to do with me. At one point we sent over Cheyenne, a team member who is arguably one of the most skilled at creating connections with students and even she found it tough. It was like this for an entire year. One day the students were reminded that I was available for tutoring and she approached us wondering if I could help with Science. Jana was failing at the time (48%, I believe) and wasn’t sure if she could pass. We began working together every week. At first we were celebrating the fact that she was finishing assignments. Every assignment she finished pushed her mark up a little bit, more importantly I could tell Jana was understanding more of the material. By the end of the semester she was not only understanding Science but Physics was her favourite topic. A lot of work on her part and a helping hand when she was faltering had allowed her to excel. Jana ended up passing Science with an 88% and scored the highest mark in Physics on the final exam.

The next semester we worked on Math and Geography. She ended up excelling at both and earned an English award. By the end of the year, Jana went from failing Science to earning a spot on the honour roll.

Her list of accomplishments are not limited to academia. She really has grown in confidence and maturity since I started tutoring her. Jana decided to join the school’s cheer team and they won provincials last year. She has become a certified lifeguard and is on her way to becoming a lifeguard instructor. Jana is becoming a well-rounded young adult with all of the skills necessary to succeed. I believe that the WJHA has helped her develop these skills. The WJHA places a high degree of importance on building strong connections with students, by providing a consistent, non-judgemental adult presence in our students’ lives that is separate from school and family. It is from this unique situation that we can create positive social change and deeply affect the lives of student athletes.

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