BranchOut! has been serving the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) since the summer of 2017 by working as TAs and tutors to support its Summer Credit Recovery Program.
One of our first FCPS schools was Justice High School in Falls Church, Virginia, where BranchOut! student mentors learned valuable life skills about how to tutor and connect with students from a variety of backgrounds. The vice principal at Justice High School, Mrs. Vandawalker was excited to see “students helping students in the classroom.” The BranchOut! program heavily values student interactions and through engaging with their peers in FCPS summer schools, both the student and student mentor gain a knowledgeable, wholesome experience.
It was a pleasant surprise when we received a special shoutout from the Dean of Students at Justice High School about our work this month. She noted in a subsequent comment that BranchOut! mentors "were amazing" and she looks forward to working with our students again.
A rising 11th grade student shared with us that the BranchOut! mentors were "very helpful" and she found it easier to connect and learn through the student mentors due to their proximity in age and understanding. A student attending the Chemistry credit recovery program also said that having BranchOut! mentors in the classroom made it easier to follow along with the fast-paced summer school curriculum.
One student said that he was in summer school because he didn’t feel like attending class. Although he preferred to work by himself, he enjoyed having BranchOut! mentors around, as “every time I’d ask a question, [they] would help in every way possible.” He also noted the mentors’ usefulness to the teachers, saying that “having an extra set of hands around the class is very helpful. He emphasized that his perspective on learning had changed for the better; in school, he felt that he had learned nothing and that it was all a waste of time, but in summer school, he felt that he could “learn more and do more” because of the shortened, sped up curriculum, which made him feel proud of himself.
Before the pandemic, BranchOut! students served at three FCPS high schools, including South Lake High School, Hayfield Secondary School, and Justice High School. This year, we branched out to Herndon High School and Marshall High School.
"Thank you SOOO much for our tutors - They have been indispensable!" Dr. Cronin, principal of the Herndon High School's Summer Program shared excitedly with our program director this July. To show their appreciation, the Herndon team put together a small ceremony for the BranchOut! mentors to recognize their contribution.
Monica Kim, who is the Educational Administrator and Resource Teacher at Herndon Credit Recovery shared the following with our team. "It was a pleasure having BranchOut! tutors at the Herndon Recovery Summer Program. They dedicated every day to help students who were struggling. All students were able to go from a failing grade to a passing grade with the help of your volunteers. They were able to achieve success by helping with missing assignments, going over test questions, and re-learning concepts. It was the one-to-one help students needed in order to achieve academic success. I am so proud of your tutors for their commitment and service. They were outstanding in helping students with their knowledge and an excellent role model. Thank you for reaching out to the Herndon Recovery Program and I hope to see more tutors next summer!"
We are so proud of our students and can't wait to be back next summer!
2022 BranchOut! Participants:
Ethan Chitturi, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Aiden Feyerherm, McLean High School
Alyssa Gatesman, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Derek Li, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Derek Liu, Langley High School
Johnny Liu, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Grace Park, Oakton High School
Dylan Schenker, Montgomery Blair High School
Ava Song, Langley High School
Abhinav Vadlamani, Chantilly High School
Aaron Yang, Oakton High School
Andrew Yang, Madison High School
Jeffrey Young, Oakton High School
Richard Zhu, Richard Montgomery High School