Tutoring beyond the U


Courtesy of Meredith Torres

Known as “VSCO girl” at Western Avenue, Meredith Torres spends her after-school hours tutoring K-8 students.

Jaiden Mapugay, Reporter

After-school hours, for some, are spent slinging ice cream into cones or counting pennies behind a register. Others fill their hours play year round sports, hoping to catch the eye of scouts to gift them with gratuitous scholarships. Others find unique opportunities to volunteer and get a taste of their future careers. Meredith Torres, a junior, spends her weekday evenings as a tutor for children aged K-8 at Western Avenue, an after school program funded by Eastview. 

Hayley Troemel, Academic Director of Western Avenue, said, “We hope that we can provide an environment where all of our kiddos can thrive. We want to holistically support students and their families. This means that we value lives as well as academics.”

Though Torres doesn’t plan on becoming a teacher, she still believes it is important to expose herself to a variety of kids for her future career in medicine, specifically pediatrics. 

Torres works with students in academic and social areas. 

“A typical tutoring session starts with a conversation about what areas they need to work on, just to get a feel about their own personal successes and failures,” Torres said.

Western Avenue isn’t just about finishing homework and reading books. In just two short months interacting with 38 kids, Torres has been dubbed a “VSCO girl” for wearing a scrunchie in her hair on the first day. 

“My favorite memory was when we had a birthday and one of the other leaders asked the students to raise their hand and say something nice about the birthday celebrant,” Torres said. “Because of how young these kids are, it was up in the air what was going to be said. But, everyone who raised their hand had something super sweet to say about this little girl. I thought that it was just really great to see that these kids are learning to respect and find good things in each other.”

Torres started out as a sophomore mentoring in the U-Link Mentor System, directed by Nancy McCain. After dipping her toe into the teaching world, Torres discovered a passion for helping others. 

“I hope students gain skills such as how to work on their own, how to ask appropriate questions to get the answers they really need, and how to work with another student,” McCain said. “Those are all really important to me.”

Torres said the U-Link is the perfect space for students to get help without the pressure of asking a teacher, a sometimes daunting task if that teacher has not had their mid-morning coffee. 

“Getting to know the students is one of my favorite things,” McCain said. “I love that there is a nice safe place they can come if they are having a bad day; they never have to feel threatened here at all. No pressure.”

Being a volunteer outside of school is full of rewards. Torres said one of the biggest lessons she’s learned is realizing that all kids deserve the same learning opportunities. 

“Most kids that are enrolled there come from tough backgrounds,” Torres said. “But they still show up with a positive attitude and are willing to work.”

By pursuing this role in her community, Torres is gaining practical experience regarding how kids learn and grow, especially how they have a mind of their own.

“I love that Meredith is choosing to spend time with us because she loves the kids, not because she needs to get course credit,” Troemel said. “I’m so grateful that our students have so many amazing tutors like her to look up to.”