UPLIFT club returns to tutor local middle and elementary school students


Photo by Aiden Clarke

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This year, the UPLIFT club is back in business. UPLIFT is a club dedicated to tutoring middle and elementary school students in a wide variety of subjects they might be struggling with. Tutors teach students the skills they will need to not only do well in school, but to excel in their future high school careers.

When asked what makes UPLIFT special, junior and Club President Samuel Anderson said, “UPLIFT is the only club at Townsend that tutors students from different schools. Rather than spending their half days on Fridays with friends or going home, tutors take the time out of their day to go to the middle schools and help students. This dedication to helping younger students and constant desire to make a difference is what makes this club so special.”

The teachers at the middle schools UPLIFT partnered with are grateful for the work tutors have done for students this year. Patrick Burns, the principal of Robert A Van Wyck Middle School 217, said, “The implementation of UPLIFT at my school has impacted my students in that they have an additional person to support them in navigating the skills and advanced high school content we have challenged them to master this year. In addition, and perhaps more importantly they are learning from someone closer to their age. In my conversations with my students they are absolutely grateful for their experience with UPLIFT.”

Similarly, MS 217 Algebra 1 teacher Mr. Kelly said, “It’s great to have high schoolers who have taken Algebra 1 before come in and help our seventh and eighth grade students. It’s really helpful to have former middle schoolers here to explain content in terms that even I, as a math teacher, may not be able to.” He continued, “I think this is something that has helped out a lot of the kids, especially those who may feel more comfortable asking someone who’s not that much older than them for help.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first year since 2020 that UPLIFT was able to partner with middle schools to tutor students in person. The club’s success after this inactivity is something that the members are proud of. Senior and club Vice President Sarah Tasnim said, “Since we did not have a school to partner with from last year, we were scared that we would face this same issue again. We also did not have much experience with the club, so it was a bit of a learning curve. Fortunately after many phone calls and emails from us and our club advisor, [guidance counselor Jessica] Graf, we ended up not only tutoring at one school but three schools.” Although Sarah is graduating this year, she said she is excited to see the club grow and improve in the coming years. 

Kayla Pair, who is a tutor with UPLIFT, said that she loved being a part of the club this year and seeing students get a better understanding of what they were learning. “When I first started tutoring Algebra One, the student I was helping was struggling a lot and not performing very well in class. It was so rewarding to come back each week and see as the work became easier for her until she was finally able to do an entire worksheet by herself,” Kayla said.

Students from the middle schools also enjoyed being tutored. Seventh grader Malik said, “Not only did my tutor help me during class, but he was also a friend. I’m glad I had someone to talk to about football and video games like 2K, who made me feel comfortable asking for help.”