Afternoon Academy
2018-19 | Manhattan Valley, NY

Yale Community Connect has been working hard to form partnerships with Booker T. Washington JHS (MS54) to provide ongoing opportunities for volunteers to tutor and mentor local students.


MS54 alumnus and YC Connect volunteer Andrew Strott offers his reflections on his YC Connect experiences. Andrew was one of the first volunteer tutors that Yale Community Connect recruited for the homework help pilot program Afternoon Academy, and he played a pivotal role in its success. Andrew is currently a junior at Hunter College High School. Though he already fulfilled his community service requirement, he continued to tutor MS54 students who are struggling academically, because the experience was so gratifying to him. In the words of Andrew’s mother Hochin Chung, “I think as a mother seeing Andrew really enjoy and talk about his kids has been a pleasure. Community service at its finest should be a give-and-take relationship, where kids like Andrew want to help, but in turn, the maturity and confidence that it builds is so incredible to see.”:

My experience helping out at Afternoon Academy, the MS54 afterschool tutoring program pilot, has been incredible. I’ve made such amazing connections and friendships with both teachers and students and it has been so much fun working with my group of sixth graders. I was helping out every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday after school before having to take a break starting March 1st due to my commitments to my school lacrosse team. However, even though I love playing lacrosse and would never give it up, I still miss working with my students and helping them in their studies. I am also proud of how far this program has come as a whole. Coming into the program this year as part of the “test run” that it was meant to be, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that I would be working with struggling students and that it wouldn’t be easy, but I never would have expected such success in working with them. Furthermore, it surprised me to hear that there were actually so many more sixth graders who wanted to be a part of the program because of the reputation we had built in such a small but successful time as a pilot program. It was nice to hear that we had successfully built a program but it also made me realize that we really need more tutors. I would like to grow this program even further so that we can truly offer help to anyone and everyone who needs it at MS54.

In working with my students, I have gotten to know them so well that my relationship with each of them feels like the relationships I have with my two brothers. While working with my students, I would pick them up from their homeroom every day and we would walk together to whatever classroom we were working in that day. We joked with each other, let each other in on secrets, but also worked hard every day, the proof coming not only in their report cards but also through the growth in the self-confidence of each of them. The impact that I have had on my students has 3 different aspects: our relationship, their grades, and their self-confidence. Through building such strong relationships with each of them and helping them to improve their grades, I have been able to instill a sense of confidence for them all both inside and outside of school that was lacking before. It is also so nice to see that they have gained a new passion for learning because of their trust in me as a tutor. They know that when they let me explain their work to them and when I help them through it, they can truly start to learn and take pleasure in it.

The impact that my students have had on me is equal if not greater than the impact I have had on them. They’ve shown me such perseverance and they owe almost all of their academic success to themselves. Its both inspiring and gladdening to see them succeed in school, especially after some of their previous downfalls before the beginning of this program. While working with them is very tiring, they are still sixth graders, they also manage to make it so much fun and I am happy to say that we have created an environment in which both learning and teaching is enjoyable.

I think that community service is so important for teenagers especially and I am very glad that my school imposes a 75-hour community service requirement to graduate. I think that not only can community service be fun and enjoyable, but it also puts things into perspective and can help keep us grounded in a world full of crazy and unknown quantities. I also love community service because of the satisfaction I find in helping others. This satisfaction is such a nice thing to feel: my boys are appreciative of me and show it to me every day which is such a good feeling to have both as a tutor and as a friend.


MS54 veteran teacher Elisabeth Cohen, who designed Afternoon Academy, said, “Yale Community Connect has supported my school’s community in its integration efforts by helping us to publicize our volunteer tutoring program. We are so grateful for their support.”

Read about Nina Jaroslaw ’85’s YC Connect volunteer experience here!

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