Upper School News

Peer Coaches Pay it Forward
Antonia Ehlers, director of communications
Upper School students coach peers

Nueva students are paying it forward as peer coaches for subjects including Mandarin, writing, computer science, chemistry, physics, and math. In its third year, this program has now hit its greatest number of topics offered (triple that of its launch year) and its highest number of coaches. 

“Our peer coaches feel comfortable and confident in these subjects and they enjoy helping others,” noted Middle School writing teacher/Upper School Writing Center teacher Jennifer Perry. “Our hope is to engender a culture that encourages and enables students to ask for help when they need it. Imposter syndrome is prevalent, but this is helping to change the culture, which will bring our community closer together. Peer coaching is a win-win situation, and there’s such a positive ripple effect.”

This year, Nueva peer coaches include four sophomores, four juniors, and 11 seniors. All of them have participated in training sessions, which included discipline-specific tips and best practices. Coaches dedicate at least one hour per week to offering assistance. Sometimes, coaching can be as simple as a quick drop-in with a question at the lunch tables. On other occasions, more time is needed in a quiet space to sort out a complicated homework problem. 

“I decided to become a coach because I want everyone to be able to feel as satisfied with their work as I do when I'm really pleased with how an assignment has turned out,” said junior Grace H. “As a coach, I get to help people dig into the work they're doing, look deeper at the aspects of projects they're interested in, and find new solutions to remove roadblocks. My goal is to guide students as they clarify and explore their own thoughts. The most rewarding part is watching them recognize their own brilliant ideas and getting to see the spectacular, unique, incredibly astute observations and arguments my fellow Nuevans make.” 

Peer coaches are available for quick drop-in sessions each day at the base of the stairs near the cafe. “By adding drop-in options this year, students can meet with tutors in more casual, spontaneous ways,” said Writing & Research Center Director Jennifer Paull. In addition, students can sign up to schedule one-on-one meetings with peer coaches. To see tutors’ schedules and subjects, click here.

“One of the best aspects of the coaching program is the coaches’ true eagerness to help their fellow students. In our early meetings, they often spoke about their own experiences of having someone help them trace a connection, clarify a claim, or make a breakthrough with a problem. What a relief, how encouraging, and how fun those moments can be! This year’s tutoring team is excited to create more moments like that, and to emphasize that asking each other questions or seeking feedback is not only normal but can lead to great insights and conversations.”

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