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Salem-Keizer students expand free tutoring program outside Oregon

The students who started the program say they're now offering free tutoring to kids in Southwest Washington and Northern California.

SALEM, Ore. — Salem-Keizer students who have been tutoring kids for free throughout Oregon during the pandemic are now expanding their services in a big way.

Back in August, KGW introduced viewers to three Salem-Keizer students: Esha Puri, Pranav Ramesh, and Luke Clifton. They’re all South Salem High School seniors this year. They're also the ones responsible for starting up a tutoring program for kids in Oregon.

Now, it’s gone so well they’re expanding to help tutor kids in Southwest Washington and Northern California.

Luke Clifton said it was at the start of the pandemic, when distance learning was new and especially difficult, that he and his classmates decided to do something to help.

“The three of us recognized that if we’re going through this, then a lot of other kids are probably struggling with it too,” said Clifton.

That’s how their program, Connect Oregon Students, started. Back around the time of late July and early August, students officially began tutoring kids across the state.

“We decided to start Connect Oregon to offer tutoring services and then also peer support services because mental health is super, super important, especially during coronavirus,” Clifton said.

“The response has been overwhelming and overwhelmingly supportive and it’s been amazing,” said Ramesh.

Credit: Connect Oregon Students
Connect Oregon Students website

Puri said the idea behind the program is to make sure students are ready when in-person school is back in session.

“We want to be able to prepare students for when the time comes to reopen, they’re ready to hit the ground running and get ready for school again,” said Puri.

Right now there are 75 tutors working with 150 kids. Most of the kids getting tutored are in elementary school, but students in all grade levels can sign up.

“We have some students in our class who are teaching other high school students how to do pre-calculus and calculus right now,” Puri said.

Ramesh said for their elementary students, the most common subjects they need tutoring for are math and reading comprehension.

Puri said parents often sign their kids up for both academic tutoring as well as the peer support option.

Now that they’ve expanded their services outside of Oregon, they’re going to need more help. The students said they’re looking for high school student tutors who are located anywhere in Oregon, Northern California, or Southwest Washington.

“We also kind of wanted to provide a volunteering opportunity for juniors and seniors because I know a big part of your college applications are your service opportunities,” said Ramesh.

They know, it may sound daunting to be a tutor, but they said if a student feels comfortable in a particular subject, they encourage that student to sign up and try out being a tutor.

“We can match you with a variety of different students that range to whatever you feel comfortable teaching with,” said Ramesh.

Puri, Ramesh and Clifton said they hope the tutoring doesn’t end when they graduate and leave for college. They’re expecting other students to take over.

If you are a high school student and are interested in being a tutor, or if you are a parent with a child you think would want to get some tutoring or peer support, visit the Connect Oregon Students website for more details on how to enroll.

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