What We’ve Been Up To

Can you believe it? November 2022 is drawing to close! Here is a recap of some recent events.

Parents gave out pies and thank you cards on the last Friday before Thanksgiving break—what fun! Thank you, Rebecca Cook, and every parent who donated goodies and time to create a special way to say thank you to our teachers and staff!

LASA Showcase happened on Wednesday (of the same week) and was by all accounts a big success! There was great turnout for the evening program (open to the public for families wanting to check out LASA) and a delicious dinner provided to teachers and staff beforehand. Thank you, Olga Ovcharenko, our Hospitality chair, for organizing the dinner and to all who donated food and helped set up, serve and clean up! Thank you also to Virginia Jones and Bharathi Jana for their tireless efforts to bring all of the Fall LASA recruitment events together, with Showcase being the final big night. Meanwhile, also on the recruitment front, Jayne Rosso, chair of the PFLASA mentoring program, forges ahead. The program, which provides a variety of support to students working on their LASA applications, extends into January. Learn more about the support available here.

A shout out as well is due to Cristina Hernandez and Lina Porras, co-chairs of the Latino Outreach Committee. They hosted an informal potluck social on Día De Los Muertos for LASA’s Latino families. They are planning a second evening event at the end of this month, at which LASA counselors and administration will be on hand to make remarks and answer questions.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead to December, we will meet on Dec 2nd as usual, but we will conclude our meeting at 9:30 am. If you would like to stay on and help stuff envelopes in the library (for LASA acceptance letters), please stay on! You can sign up here.

In addition, our last meeting of 2022 will be a holiday social. On Dec 16, we will conduct business briefly from about 8:15-8:30 and then hang out and enjoy some refreshments. Please bring some treats to share if you would like. We will supply coffee, tea and juice.

Tutoring and Study Groups

I want to spend the rest of my blog post today talking about tutoring and study groups and other ways your student can get academic support. December means finals, so now is a great time to ensure your student is up to speed on available resources.

PFLASA has a program by which we hire and pay tutors for certain subjects. Currently, tutoring is available in Chemistry, Physics and Algebra II. Tutors are generally available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4-6 pm in the library, although sometimes there are changes. Encourage your student to listen to announcements and check other references (Blend, LASA Life App, Facebook and Instagram) to be sure the subject in which they want tutoring has not been cancelled on any given day. NOTE: Earlier sessions may be offered during the half days of finals week (December 16-21); please keep an eye on all posting and announcements for details as they become available.

Our tutors are approved by the teachers in each department that teach the subject in which they tutor; they are also in communication with teachers about curriculum, although the amount of involvement varies by teacher.

PFLASA collects numbers on how many students come for tutoring to give us an idea of utilization. It is therefore important that students sign in, so that we know the volume of help being sought. Some students come without specific questions and want to be near a tutor “just in case.” This is awesome! We want those students to sign in as well.

We consider making changes to the tutoring program based on the utilization we can determine. To that end we are looking to hire an additional tutor in Physics, which currently has the most students showing up to receive help, and for which we currently have only one tutor.

We also may make changes based on input from teachers and administration. One input is how students are doing across the board (failure rates) in various subjects. After the first nine weeks of this year, Algebra II stood out as the math class in which the most students are failing, yet our Algebra II tutors have generally received very few students. This is a dynamic we are seeking to better understand. We don’t have plans to hire more Algebra II or other math tutors at this time, until we can better understand the current utilization patterns. In January, we hope to institute a comment QR code, so students can provide feedback regarding their tutoring experience, which may shed some light.

We understand that many parents and students may be concerned about academic performance well above failing. However, in the absence of more nuanced information, failure rates provide a proxy for the subjects in which students are struggling most and utilization provides us the only information we have regarding the level of student interest.

That said, we are open to providing tutoring in additional subjects, if warranted. We would welcome input from parents on this or any other aspect of the tutoring program. Please email me at “president at pflasa dot org” if you have questions or insights to share! I will pass them along as appropriate, and ensure they get to Velvet Hammerschmidt, our chair for this committee.

What Else Is Available?
Your student has many options beyond the PFLASA-sponsored tutors for help. First and foremost, your student should seek out their teacher or a teacher in the same department for office hours to get additional support in a subject or class. If connecting in office hours is difficult for some reason, your student can email the teacher and get help figuring out an alternate plan. Partnering with other students in the same class for self-organized peer tutoring is also a great option.

Some other great resources are also available.

• LASA recently launched a drop-in Writing Center which features 25 peer tutors (all juniors and seniors) “trained and ready to work with students on writing assignments of all kinds.” They are available in the library Monday – Friday at 7:30am, at lunch, and after school (except Friday) until 4:45pm.

• There is also a Math Peer Tutoring resource, organized by the Math Department, that offers help at various levels. The program offers drop-in tutoring available before school and at lunch every day. The peer tutors sign up for these times at their convenience, so the breadth of their expertise differs, depending on who is available. However, all tutors are required to have passed one year of AP Calculus and received the recommendation of their math teacher to participate. The list of these peer tutors is available upon request. Please email me at “president at pflasa dot org” or Ms. Harrelson for more information.

Peer Tutoring in Computer Science is also available. Students can fill out a form to request and arrange tutoring; walk-in peer tutoring is also available in Room 506 on Wednesdays at lunch.

All of these resources and more are described on the LASA website under Students/ Student Support Options. Check out the information here.