By Jinyan Huang ‘16
Big Sister/Brother gives a helping hand and peels away confusions in freshmen and sophomores, or little siblings, who are struggling in class. The guidance counselors contributed to the idea of starting a sibling-like tutoring program in the annex library after school.
“It has two aspects including homework helping and transition into high school,” said Ms. Sakaina Simon, a guidance counselor who is in charge of the program.
Big Sister/Brother is a unique after school program; it’s divided into two groups according to genders.
Ms. Simon explained, “If we combine them together, it would become a regular after school program.” Without over-socializing, “the mentees can also make a greater profit from it.”
Even though Big Sister and Big Brother have the same concept of boosting grades for the little siblings, there are some differences between them. Big Brother started six years ago and meets on Mondays and Wednesdays. On the other hand, this is only the second year for the Big Sister program which meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
This program is offered to little siblings based upon their report card grades and daily attendance including the number of cuts they have.
Ms. Simon said big siblings are “the mentors and the mature ones. They set as a role model for them.”
Big Sister/Brother assist the little siblings in many ways. Study skills, note taking, organization skills and time management are things little siblings can gain out of this program. Many said they saw a significant improvement in their classes.
“I can get my grades up, pass all my classes, and work with what I’m struggling with,” said Arianna Tompson ’18. “It’s also more fun to do my homework with the help of Big Sisters.”
In fact, many little siblings improved tremendously by attending every meeting. According to Ms. Simon, there were 32 little sisters last year and 28 of them got promoted to sophomore year. The requirements for a promotion were having a passing grade for all their classes as well as passing the state regents exams. Their efforts paid off, and they were able to earn eight or more credits.
At the end of the semester, this program will also benefit the big siblings. Many of them end the day early and they’re willing to stay for more than two periods to help out their little siblings. Service credits and a recommendation letter for college will be given to the big siblings for their great effort and dedication.
“Participating in this program is a great way to make new friends,” said Lisa Zhu ’16. “It’s also nice to help others in areas that they’re struggling with.”
In order to volunteer to become a big sibling, they had to see Ms. Simon and get an application. In addition, they also had to pass all of their classes and make sure they were on track for graduation.
“It’s a program that participants benefit from ,” Ms. Simon said.
Unfortunately, there are more big sisters than big brothers. This program requires more big brothers with great responsibility to join and be concerned about their little brothers’ academic study.