Rising to the challenge of student leadership: Hannah Tam

May 11, 2021

The CAIS Peer Tutoring Club (PTC) initiative understands the anxiousness of students getting the help and support when they need it the most.

It is a network established to strengthen students’ academic performance, as well as to strengthen the bonding and build a support network among some 1400 students in school.

Coming off the back of the founding student Hannah Tam’s own personal experience struggling to get support when needed, Hannah has initiated to connect and enhance learning experience for students by providing peer academic support, and hence the birth of PTC.

The Grade 10 student is also looking to expand current in-person academic support to virtual “on-demand” tutoring sessions which share one overarching goal: to help students achieve personal and academic growth.

As the school transitions back to in-person learning, we spoke to the student leader to learn about how the idea came alive, the success and setback, and thoughts on student empowerment.

Tell us more about the concept of the Peer Tutoring Club.

The main goal is to enhance the learning experience of students at CAIS as well as provide for them a dedicated study space where younger students can get academic help from senior student tutors while learning to be independent, productive learners in a relaxed environment.

How did the idea come about?

My peers and I felt like the study period afterschool has not been maximized. Getting academic support without having to schedule a time with a teacher afterschool was a pain-point for us.

Meanwhile, I was hoping to be more involved with school’s activities and clubs, and so I took the lead and asked my teachers for advice on how to start a new club.

Having received the support from the school and teachers, I then put the idea into practice and moved the concept into reality.

What are you trying to achieve through the Peer Tutoring Club?

I hope that through this club, students who receive tutoring from us will be able to improve their academic performance while having the opportunity to connect with their peers regardless of their grades. Along with those goals in mind, I also hope that this club will be able to improve the school community’s relationship through the interaction of older and younger students.

Tell us how did you translate your concept into reality?

At first, when this idea came into mind, I decided to turn to my older sister for advice, as she had more experience in the participation of school clubs than I. She suggested that I write up a proposal letter to the school and ask for additional advice and instruction from other teachers. However, before I did all that, I had also put out surveys for the student body to see their opinions on a club such as PTC and gathered data responses which turned out to be very positive.

I then created a list of students who had shown interest in joining the club and submitted my proposal which was approved and hence, the Peer Tutoring Club was born!

What kind of support have you received from the school when experimenting with this idea?

My teachers have been really supportive throughout the whole process, from developing the concept, promoting and getting other students involved. PTC wouldn’t be possible without them!

How would you suggest the school to leverage students’ power to make an impact within the school and beyond?

I would suggest that the school could be more open with the concept of students starting their own clubs as I had no idea how to or whom to reach out to for my proposals and queries. I believe that clubs are a great way for students interact with one another and can largely help grow students’ skills beyond the academic side. In my opinion, if the school could develop a system for students to experiment their own ideas, it would be a wonderful way to enhance our engagement with the school.

Share with us the successes and setbacks you have on this initiative?

I would say that the club’s approval in itself is quite a success to myself already, as I was unsure whether how the school would react to my proposal. Seeing some students becoming regulars at the PTC and having parents contact me for more information about the tutoring is something that I would say is successful as well. Nonetheless, with successes comes setbacks, trying to balance my studies with the management of this club was a new concept to me as PTC is the first ever club I had ever founded. I had to learn to adjust my study schedules afterschool and also improve my time efficiency with procrastination.

How would you make Peer Tutoring Club possible during online learning period?

I was planning on making a website in which students would be able to get “on-demand” support from tutors during a set period of time along with sections for each subject with useful class notes. But I would also need to recruit more members to help realise the idea which I believe many would find it useful.

What skills have you developed?

Through the Peer Tutoring Club, as the founder and current president, I was able to pick up many life skills in which I am sure would be extremely valuable in the near future. For example, I have learnt time management and leadership skills, as well as being flexible and putting my knowledge into application during the tutoring sessions.