PALS upgrade to Mastery Lab

Nic Baggetto, Copy Editor

The Mastery Lab, a recent overhaul to one of the school’s existing programs, is home to a new program of student tutors. It is essentially an upgrade to the PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Strategies) of years past. Near the end of the 2014-2015 school year, the administrative department visited classrooms promoting the new system. Now, there are 88 student tutors working in the building.

“The Mastery Lab tutors act as our number one tier one intervention program in the building,” Associate Principal for Instruction Megan Knight said. “Tier one means it’s accessible to any and all students.”

One of the primary differences between PALS and the Mastery Lab is that help for each subject can be found in the same location. It is also offered before school, after school and during lunch periods.

“We all sit at tables with the subject that we specialize in and then [students] come in and we pair up,” sophomore Amanda Sitkowski said. “I tutor in English, social studies, language arts and math.”

A schedule is created for each tutor in conjunction with academic resource center assistant Susan Montemayor. Each tutor has committed to two sessions per week and can also earn service learning credit if they complete a certain number of sessions per semester.

Tutor training was held on August 25 and was required of each recruit. It covered the basics of the program as well as expectations and tips.

“We learned the general process of tutoring so it doesn’t really vary,” Sitkowski said. “They make sure that the pen never really goes into our hands so that the student really understands the process of what they’re doing.”

Generally students seeking help come in with worksheets or test corrections, but some are required to visit the lab on teacher referral for subpar grades. The teachers are able to monitor what their students are working on through exit slips sent to them by the tutors.

“I didn’t really understand the math because they moved me up a lot,” freshman Reyna Shino said. “It’s helped me a lot on my homework.”

According to Knight, most students are reacting positively. Exit slips are showing that most students are getting what they need from the tutors. On slower days, the tutors will sometimes tutor each other, offering more benefits from the program.

“We want it to be a very positive environment where kids know they can go if they need something,” Knight said. “I think the tutors are having a very positive experience.”