From January 4-28, 2021, Griffith High School students assisted Beiriger and Wadsworth Elementary School teachers in tutoring elementary students after school. Many of the high school students involved in this program, such as senior Ladurian Hawthorne, are members of Griffith High School's National Honor Society (NHS).
"I chose to participate in NHS because it is a really great way to get involved in the local community with how many opportunities there are to help out," said Hawthorne.
After school tutoring was held Monday through Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m. in the afternoon.
"I felt it was really convenient to tutor right after school because it still left me plenty of time to work on my own homework," said junior Emma Jacobs.
The tutoring sessions focused on reviewing English and math topics. The tutoring groups managed to tackle these subjects by spending half of their time together on each subject.
"I like helping because I could see real progress being made, and I felt like I was accomplishing something," said senior and fifth-grade tutor Bubala.
The mingling of elementary and high school students allowed for high school students to set a positive example for the younger students, as well as teaching each group to work collaboratively with a different age group.
"I feel it was effective to have high schoolers work with such young kids because we were able to set an example for them. The kids can look up to us and see what their future will be like," said Jacobs.
Students at Griffith High School chose to tutor for a variety of different reasons from earning community service hours to getting an idea of what a future career in teaching would be like.
"I decided to tutor because I wanted to see what it would be like to help younger kids in a school environment," said Hawthorne.
One after school third-grade tutor, Jason Czyz, is a senior at Griffith High School.
"I decided to tutor because the service hours offered were just too good to pass up. It was a good opportunity to help out in my old elementary school," said Czyz.
During his time as a tutor, Czyz helped students learn to tell time, comprehend passages, and multiply.
"I think tutoring is rewarding because you see the kids grow from when you first met them," said Czyz.
Czyz visited Beiriger Elementary School each Monday through Thursday after school.
"This experience taught me that teaching is a rewarding experience and that being a teacher later in life would be an awesome opportunity. Say thanks to your teachers - it's real hard work!" said Czyz.
In addition to tutoring, Czyz participates in multiple school bands, National Honor Society, and theatre at Griffith High School. After high school, Czyz plans to attend college to study biology.
"Hopefully, I can become a doctor, then a teacher. Life is too unpredictable to have a completely built out plan, but those are my current intentions," said Czyz.
Engaging, passionate, and encouraging are just three words that describe Beiriger Elementary School librarian Krystal Montes.
Montes served as a teacher in the after-school tutoring program.
"I've tutored for many years on my own for students after school and in my community. I've tutored adults and school-aged children in a variety of subjects from Spanish to math. This year, when I was presented with the opportunity to tutor for Griffith Public Schools, I didn't think twice about saying yes," said Montes. "I knew from all of the years I've tutored that this year was especially important. With virtual learning for so long and some students falling behind, I wanted to be sure to do my part to help out as many young Panthers as I could."
Montes was the leader of a fourth-grade study group that had two high school student assistants.
"High school students give them motivation, and the students feel like they can connect with them. They show younger students to stick with it and not give up," said Montes.
Montes has been an educator for nine years, all of which have been in the Griffith Public School system. She describes her career as rewarding.
"The most rewarding aspect of tutoring, besides seeing students gain confidence, is the relationships I've built with them. I love when they come back and ask questions and feel comfortable enough to say they need help. Getting the waves in the hallways and random visits in the library to just say hi makes it all worth it," said Montes.
Montes grew up in Lake Station, where she attended River Forest Community schools. She attended Purdue University Calumet (now Purdue University Northwest), where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in elementary education and international studies.
Teachers like Montes encourage students to be the best version of themselves, allowing them to understand the importance of asking for help when needed, and most importantly - make a difference.