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Learning Buddies

Industry professionals volunteer to tutor K-12 students

Photo of Alain Trottier
3 2

Written by

I am a.....

  • Founder of Learning Buddies

Tell us about your idea

There are approximately 3.7 million teachers in the U.S. teaching about 57 million K-12 students. But there are nearly as many professional subject matter experts in industry as there are students. At my employer, I started Learning Buddies which paired my expert colleagues with a student. The expert volunteers, no fee to the student. This accomplished several things:

1.  Student got help from an industry expert

2.  The expert enjoyed sharing their expertise with an eager student

3.  Company culture boost

4.  Home school challenges got a little easier


This is different from tutorial services at schools, colleges and online because the expertise of the professional is often better and deeper and the no fee service lowered the barrier to participate so more students got help than otherwise possible.

At my employer, the Learning Buddies program pairs emaployee tutors with staff kids who need help with school work. The pandemic has forced many ACI families to complete the academic year remotely - without warning or preparation. In these unprecedented times, it’s important that we come together and lend a hand, as well as our expertise.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

surprise switch to home school. I like the home school part, but not the surprise which left many families with a schedule nightmare.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

When my family first moved to Georgia, my wife and I homeschooled our son from grade 7-9 grades. From that experience, I developed a soft spot for homeschoolers. When the pandemic suddenly thrust millions of families into homeschooling, I wanted to help.

What region are you located in?

  • North America

Where are you located?

Kennesaw, GA, U.S. This region has many schools, so I'm hoping Learning Buddies helps our students.

3 comments

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Spam
Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Alain.
Thanks for sharing this program you initiated! It is exciting to hear that the program is already in place.
It would be great to learn more about the program. How many children are participating? Do all children in the program have access to tech and internet service? How are tutors matched with students? Is this company based in one region, or are there employees who might work in one region, that are connected to students in other regions?

Has anything surprised you along the way so far, about how the program has developed?
What are tutors sharing back? What are the users/kids, and their parents sharing back?

Spam
Photo of Alain Trottier
Team

Hi Bettina.
The professional staff sign-up on a spreadsheet posted on SharePoint. They provide subject expertise, availability, contact information and other data. Homeschooling staff view the list and choose a tutor. I then setup a meeting. Once agreed, the parent and tutor use company Webex to conduct the tutorial sessions. The parent and I monitor everything. The company allows tutors and students to use its network, Webex, Microsoft Office365 and other software and hardware tools without charge. The tutorial sessions are conducted after work hours and the tutor offers expertise free of charge. My employer is ACI Worldwide which has offices in many countries and staff who speak many languages. All staff are invited to use the service regardless of country of residence. I initiated the program very late in the school year, within a week of end of term for the students, so only a few homeschooling families participated. This is my fault, I was too slow to respond to the crisis. I'm hopeful that the Spring semester will see more participation. What surprised me most was the engagement of tutors. Once the head of HR announced the program, many tutors volunteered, even those who have no formal teaching experience but demonstrated compassion towards their homeschooling teammates.

Spam
Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Alain.
Thanks for explaining what you are doing. It is great to hear that there is enthusiasm for this effort amongst staff there! It was great to see your post. I have read a few ideas on the challenge which address equity in education by proposing services to match tutors/mentors to youth virtually. Some include ideas on how to support youth who might not have access to internet or tech. It is interesting to learn about the system you are starting, within the ecosystem of one global organization. Others might learn from your experience with this.