Homework Help a labor of love for VHS students

By SARAH DOOLITTLE, Four Points News

Vandegrift HS senior, Addison Stahl, founded Homework Help and the free tutoring service is gaining momentum in its second year. VHS students provide the tutoring, offering help to students of all ages.

“We’re trying to provide the high schoolers a chance to volunteer and at the same time give these kids a chance to excel at school,” said Stahl, who is involved in National Honor Society and is a volunteer with PALS or Peer Assistance and Leadership.

Homework Help operates from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Cups & Cones in Steiner Ranch.

Addison Stahl, VHS senior and founder of Homework Help.  Photo credit: Sarah Doolittle

Addison Stahl, VHS senior and founder of Homework Help.
Photo credit: Sarah Doolittle

“You shouldn’t have to rely only on yourself. You shouldn’t have to put the world on your own shoulders. Because nobody can do that,” he said. “You need a support system. It’s healthy to look around and say, ‘Hey, we can come up together and we can be great.’”

Prospective tutors must complete a ten question application about their reasons for wanting to volunteer as well as their commitment to their studies. A teacher evaluation is also required.

More than tutoring in academic subjects, Addison prides himself that Homework Help volunteers are also role models. “It’s really about mentoring.That’s the base of it.”

Addison’s own role models are his mother and father. His mom is an active volunteer who gave her son the confidence to build Homework Help from scratch. His dad, an attorney, left law to fulfill a lifelong dream of service in law enforcement. Their examples and others have taught him that having a goal is not enough, that success also comes from having a plan, discipline and perseverance.

Because he is a graduating senior, Addison will soon start interviewing for his replacement. Though applicants have big shoes to fill, Addison is, “confident that the next people who step up will be phenomenal.” But, he adds, “You can’t be in this just for the hours. You can’t be in this because you want to put it on a college application. This is really about benefitting our community. It has to come from the heart.”

Steiner resident Marie Mopsik has watched her daughter, Allie, thrive with Homework Help. “It’s really a ministry. These kids are giving their time. And it’s available for free. They’re like mentors and positive role models that the kids can see somebody taking the time to help them.”

Tutors focus on school work but also on homework management skills such as planning ahead, being conscientious and learning to enjoy school work.

“Countless kids come up to me and say, ‘I got my first A on a test.’ I’ve had parents come and say, ‘I’ve never seen my kid so confident. I’ve never seen my child excited to do schoolwork,’” Addison said.

Addison credits those whose help make the program possible. AGRS Law, Addison’s dad’s business, donates all their supplies. Lucas Martis, a junior at VHS, designed and maintains the group’s website and Lucas’ dad’s company, Hostway, hosts the site. Kristi and Rick Nordin, the owners of Cups & Cones, allow Homework Help to use their space for free. Cathy Richardson, a Steiner resident, designed the group’s logo, and Romina Montellano, also a senior at VHS, is head tutor overseeing their volunteers. Amy Gallagher, the head of PALS and Ashley Koble, head of the VHS NHS chapter, have provided invaluable support at the high school.

Visit www.fourpointshomeworkhelp.org for more information or to sign your child up for tutoring. Homework Help uses the website Signup Genius for scheduling and parents will need to make an account to get started.

Canyon Ridge Middle School sixth grader Natalie gets help with her math from VHS junior Madison Yoder.

Photo by Sarah Doolittle

From left: Lauren, Laura Bush Elementary third grader; Romina Montellano, VHS senior and Homework Help Head Tutor; Jill Zambito, VHS senior; and Peyton, LWBE second grader.

Photo by Sarah Doolittle