SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT: National Honor Society Cadets to help tutor their BC brothers

By Noell Barnidge
Benedictine Military School’s National Honor Society has teamed with BC’s Guidance and College Counseling office to provide additional after-school tutorial assistance to Cadets. It is a new peer-tutoring venture that will help Cadets, academically, in many ways.

Beginning this week, tutorials will take place each week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 3-3:30 p.m. at BC in various classrooms.

“Sheila (Crossley, BC Director of Guidance and College Counseling) came up with the idea a couple of years ago and then we got sidetracked with COVID, but it’s something that National Honor Society used to do,” said English teacher Cynthia Brinson, BC’s National Honor Society advisor. “What we did was let the (NHS) membership, spearheaded by (BC senior) Liam (McClimans), sign up for (academic) areas they thought they could help with. It might be a few years since they have been in a particular math class but if a math teacher has so many students in there, we felt like they could easily go around and give a little individual help just to assist the teacher with those tutorials.”

Having the assistance of NHS members will help teachers who, for example, have 25 Cadets show up one afternoon to receive individual tutoring – an unenviable situation for a teacher trying to reach each student during a 30-minute tutorial session.

BC’s National Honor Society offered its services to BC’s various academic departments “and they responded to the Guidance and College Counseling Office,” said Brinson, BC’s English Department Chair. “Some of the sciences wanted assistance. Math. Probably with English, sporadically. I can explain something to a class and maybe I don’t explain it exactly the way where that particular student can understand it, but if they’re in a group and working, some student may explain it in a slightly different manner, and they then catch on. It’s like group work. It’s peer tutoring.”

Crossley approached Brinson with the idea of having NHS members assist during tutorial. Together, with McClimans’ assistance, the trio reached out to BC’s faculty.

“A lot of what happens is you just need help with a concept,” Crossley said. “Say, there’s a section in Algebra II that you’re confused by but it’s not every time. This concept is tripping you up so the teacher has extra students on hand to be able to reach more and have more one-on-one. Or maybe you’re struggling with factoring in Algebra I, or whatever the case may be; chemistry, science, things like that, then there will be a student who feels like they have a good grasp of that material to maybe be able to walk them through it a slightly different way. We did collaborate, the three of us, but Liam came with some ideas, and we’ve all been into those ideas as the best way to go about this.”

Crossley said the plan is to have two or three NHS members available to help teach “the heavy need areas, maybe even up to four, depending on the teacher need. And the teacher would be able to say, ‘Hey, Liam, I need extra help on Wednesday because I’m giving a test on Thursday.’ And then she (or he) can reach out to all of those assigned to her (or him) and she (or he) can say, ‘I just need two of you to come in.’ And then the students can get together. It’s really a collaboration of teachers and students, and students amongst themselves as well. It’s everyone working together to meet a need.”

Brinson and Crossley rave about the dedication, organization, and leadership McClimans has demonstrated.

“Liam has done a great job,” Brinson said. “He’s created a spreadsheet. First of all, he led the part of the NHS meeting and he’s like, ‘I need everybody to sign up for an (academic) area or two they feel comfortable teaching.’ He’s built a spreadsheet and now he’s coordinating with the teachers and which students go with which teachers (to help tutor).”

Said Crossley, “It was a program that was loosely in place when I first started here. I don’t know when it originated. But I know it was structured differently. Students were able to benefit from it but when Mrs. Brinson got Liam on board, Liam came up with some slightly different ideas to make it better and enhance it. I think this is going to be an improved version of what we had, where National Honor Society members make themselves available for peer tutoring. I think it’s going to be better than it has ever been.”

McClimans, who humbly deflects praise, said he is eager for his fellow NHS members to get started so that they can assist their BC brothers. Not only will their efforts help, academically, but the process also will strengthen the bond among Cadets.

“It’s pretty simple when you think about it,” McClimans said. “When we originally started off, we were just going to have the (NHS) seniors do it, just because of scheduling issues. Eventually, it worked out where we also brought the newly inducted (NHS) juniors in, which multiplied the number of kids who could help. I think it’s close to 58 kids that are signed up from the (National) Honor Society who said, ‘Yeah, I can help.’

“Our current plan is for Mrs. Crossley to speak to the teachers and she’s going to get a list of teachers who need help and, hopefully, they’ll specify how many (tutors) they might need,” McClimans continued. “We understand that math and science are probably the biggest struggle so those teachers, obviously, will have a lot more students on hand versus English. English is going to be more about proofreading than anything. But what’s happening is we’re going to assign, based on the teachers’ needs, an amount of (NHS) students that the teacher, per quarter or possibly longer, will depend on to help students. They’ll be spread around. And the idea of having multiple (tutors) in there is saying, ‘Hey, when the teacher needs help and she (or he) has one student and he says, ‘I can’t help. I have such and such going on, or I need help myself’ then there are backups. That’s the whole point of having so many kids. If the teacher can put a giant group together then multiple numbers of us can come in and help.”