"Schoolhouse has probably given more to me than I have to it." | Team Spotlight: Kate

By Anuska M. | Monday, December 20, 2021

Recently, we had time to interview Kate Pearce, a remarkable member of Schoolhouse. Starting as a founding tutor, Kate has worn many hats during her journey at schoolhouse. Apart from having tutored 300+ sessions and positively impacting more than 800 learners, Kate volunteers on several teams at Schoolhouse, such as the auditing team and serves as co-lead of the tutor mentoring team. While talking to us, Kate reflected on her journey here at Schoolhouse, highlighting her positive experiences.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, I'm Kate, and I'm a high school junior from Arkansas who has been tutoring and volunteering at Schoolhouse for almost a year and a half now. I also currently serve as the co-lead of the mentor team and also serve on the auditing and onboarding teams.

You‘re a founding tutor, which means that you’ve been at Schoolhouse since its early days. What encouraged you to join Schoolhouse in the first place?

The lesson here is that procrastination can actually do you quite a bit of good. It all started when I was studying calculus on Khan Academy in early July. After slogging through yet another integral problem, I grew tired and began to click around on some of the random articles on the calculus page, trying to convince myself that I was still studying. On one of the articles, there was a little line at the bottom: For free tutoring, check out Sal's new nonprofit,! I immediately typed the address into my search bar, and, before you know it, I was recording a video of myself explaining logarithms in my basement (This was in the days before certification, so new tutors joined by completing an application and recording themselves explaining a math concept of their choice.) While I was probably initially interested due to the Sal Khan stamp of legitimacy, I mainly wanted to join because Schoolhouse reflects the change I want to see in the world; I've always been a Khan Academy fan and wanted to help solve problems of educational inequality, and Schoolhouse seemed like a great place to work towards this goal.

To you, what would another typical day volunteering at Schoolhouse consist of?

The great thing about Schoolhouse is that you can work on your own schedule, so I wouldn't say that there's a "typical" day; however, I'll usually start with some auditing team work and leave feedback for other tutors. I also recently started co-leading the mentor team, so I'll usually talk to the other mentors and get their feedback and then help mentor tutors who are struggling. In terms of actual tutoring, I teach a few sessions a week; I'll make slides and session plans whenever it's convenient for me, and also look through any diagnostics or surveys that I've assigned to see where learners need help. I usually tutor in the evenings, often going through SAT practice tests with learners or teaching other math topics. Throughout this process, I'm also talking to other tutors and learning from them, both in terms of tutoring skills and general academic guidance and life tips: the best part is definitely the community!

What part about volunteering at schoolhouse is the most exciting to you?

Although I'm really excited to start my new role on the mentor team, my favorite part of volunteering at Schoolhouse is definitely the part that drew me here in the first place: tutoring. I love working through problems with learners and helping them reach that "a-ha" moment.

You've had a profound impact on the Schoolhouse community. How has impacted you as a person and a tutor?

Schoolhouse has probably given more to me than I have to it. I've gotten to connect with talented students and professionals all over the world; what could be better! Schoolhouse volunteers are remarkably kind, and I've gotten immediate help with calculus problems and academic competitions just by asking. More importantly, though, interacting with the Schoolhouse community as a whole has opened my eyes to lots of fresh new perspectives and helped me learn of all the opportunities that are out there. I couldn't be more grateful.

What is one challenge that you faced when you first began tutoring at Schoolhouse? How did you overcome this challenge?

I think when I first started tutoring, I was a bit intimidated by the process as a whole. I was scared that I didn't REALLY know algebra, or that a learner would ask me a question that I didn't know the answer to. As I continued tutoring, though, I overcame these fears. The Feynman method really does work: I found that, as I continued explaining and teaching concepts to learners, I had a deeper understanding of these topics and was better able to explain and teach them to learners, creating a positive feedback loop. It also helped to go to other tutors' sessions and see what they were doing; I've definitely implemented a lot of other tutors' techniques into my sessions. We all learn from each other!

What do you think is in store for Schoolhouse in the near future?

I'm really excited to see what we add to our virtual Schoolhouse. With additions like Study Spaces and a new community forum, I'm happy to see that Schoolhouse is focusing on what it does best: community. Our goal isn't merely to help students learn, but to connect the world through learning. Overall, I'm thrilled to see how Schoolhouse is developing its community and can't wait to see what the future has in store.

How do you strive to make a positive impact on your learners through your sessions?

I try my best to connect with learners and care for them as people. I think it really helps to see the impact that I'm having; sometimes I'll get a nice note from a learner about how their SAT score greatly improved after attending one of my series, and that motivates me to do my best in my sessions.

Besides volunteering at Schoolhouse, what do you like to do in your free time?

Free time is interesting. While I'm still a voracious reader, I now find myself reading less fiction than I used to, and instead gravitating towards more non-fiction and random articles. Arkansas is a beautiful place, and I really enjoy exploring the woods that I live in and the nature around me. Nothing is more peaceful than a hike down to the nearby creek in the fall, with the satisfying crunch of leaves underneath my feet and seeing the mountains painting in a glorious palette of reds, oranges, and browns. I'm also a fan of riding my bike, playing copious amounts of Stardew Valley, and baking.

Any final words of advice for all our tutors?

Don't be afraid to reach out! You can learn so much from this community, but you have to make sure your voice is heard. Everyone here is happy to help in the best way they can.

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