Gear-up at Von Steuben High School

Weekly happenings in room 210

Class of…

on March 14, 2012

Gear-up is still as busy as usual: seniors are eagerly awaiting their financial aid packages for college, juniors are prepping for their ACT exam next month, sophomores are coasting through their second year, and freshmen are figuring out the relationship between speed and time.

Seniors: Class of 2012

WP has narrowed down her college choice to two, either UIC or Loyola. Today she discovered  Locus and found that her financial aid package still hasn’t been processed! The Gear-up scholarship may make it possible for her to attend a 4-year institute without spending any money out of her pocket! Right now, the scholarship is based on number of months enrolled in the program. Students who have been in the program for 2 years automatically receive $5,000 a year and $200 for every additional month that they were in the program, up to $10,000 a year. Most students have been in the program since they were in 7th grade so they total about 60 months which would be $10,000 a year for a 4-year program!

Now that the numbers are coming out for exactly how much the students are receiving makes college much more real for them and gives them more options for which school to attend since money is a deciding factor.

Juniors: Class of 2013

Sine, cosine, and tangent are in the air, the juniors are prepping for their ACT and currently studying trigonometric properties. A few of them are taking Kaplan courses but don’t think that they’re as helpful as the one-on-one tutoring sessions we have at Gear-up. I think that this may be due to the fact that teachers have to teach concepts with limited time and can’t afford to give students enough individualized attention. That’s where Gear-up steps in to solidify the material that was covered in class. At any rate, I’m glad that I’m able to help students really understand what’s taught to them in class.

Sophomores: Class of 2014

The sophomores seem to be getting their work done and enjoying the rest of their free time. The sophomores I’ve worked with just need help in geometry, chemistry, and occasionally spanish. They aren’t too preoccupied with any other issues since getting their school work done is their top priority.

Freshmen: Class of 2015

Oh, the freshmen, right now they’re just preoccupied with speed and time. Really, that’s the unit they’re currently covering!  One student came in who was really confused about the subject and said that his math teacher went through everything far too quickly and if she teaches it and you don’t get it you’re kind of held back. This issue seems to be reoccurring but again, gear-up tutoring is always available for the students!

During Gear-up, I usually make my rounds and ask the students if they have questions or help out the students who raise their hand with specific problems. I have to do this because of the high volume of students who attend tutoring. Thankfully, there are two other math tutors so we help all of the students in due time. Since tutees outnumber tutors, we constantly have to move from one student to another. This has always worked out fine. If one student needs more help there are other tutors to check in on everyone else.

Yesterday, I was the only tutor at Gear-up and again had a high turnout. This is manageable with the system in place and since most students attend tutoring to finish up their homework and have it checked it’s not an issue. Recently we’ve had a new student attending tutoring. MR is a freshmen from the special education program at Von and working with him is a whole new experience.

I don’t have any experience working with special education needs students and my supervisor has given me some pointers since he does. He told me that one of the most important things to do is set boundaries with these students since they will monopolize your time and guilt trip you into helping them.This happened to me with that particular student. I was trying to help him with his math homework which he just needed checking over but he insisted we look at each problem and each of his calculations. Meanwhile, other students needed help and I had to continually tell them that I’d be right there. At one point I finally told MR that I couldn’t have a one-on-one session with him since there were other students who needed help. When I tried leaving to help another student he asked where I was going and when I’d be back. I told him that if he had specific questions that I would gladly answer them but I had to check in on the rest of the students in tutoring.

After this incident MR realized that he can’t take all of  the tutors’ time. My supervisor has also set very strict boundaries with MR since he is always preoccupied with the Seniors since there is a lot of paperwork involved for their scholarships. He has one-on-one sessions with him twice a week but no more. Usually MR doesn’t really need help but I think he just likes having someone to listen to him speak out loud and go through his train of thought. Working with MR is a challenge but with the right approach he can be properly assisted.

Von Steuben

These incidences have again shown where the priorities of students at different grade levels lie. I feel that that’s a vital transition that students need to go through in high school since it prepares them for the lives they will lead in their higher education. It’s refreshing to see the changes these students are going through and reflect back on who I was back in my younger years. I’ve undoubtedly changed and know that I, like most, will continue to evolve.

Until next time


P.S. A day trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin has been approved for April 13th! Now to get out of my microbiology lab… 🙂



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