INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minnesota — Ever since COVID-19, students have had to navigate distance learning. A group of teens—most of them students at Eagan High School—stepped in to help.
"A couple of my friends and I, we just started this tutoring service. It began so we could help out the Good Neighbor Center. So the center offered tutoring and free meals on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and when COVID happened, it had to temporarily close down because they couldn't have all those kids in such a small space," explained Ankitha Kumar, a rising senior at Eagan High School.
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What started as a way to help the kids at GNC has grown into a free online tutoring service called Connexions Tutoring. They help students struggling with summer homework, those seeking to get ahead of their classes and students looking for help on the ACT.
Kumar and 11 of her friends started the service to help alleviate the stress of distance learning.
"I feel like the schools... they're really trying, all the teachers are really trying but sometimes it's just harder to connect with the teachers. Or if you have technology issues during the time of the Zoom, it's sometimes hard to get help," Kumar said.
Connexions Tutoring currently has 12 tutors with close to 600 hours of combined service. Most of the tutors are from Eagan High but they also have a couple from California and one who lives in South Dakota. They have about 85 students, grades 2-12.
"I got in touch with this tutoring program because I was kind of not passing. I had a lot of missing assignments," said Theol Loubaki, an incoming eighth grader at Humboldt High School in St. Paul.
On Thursday morning, Loubaki was getting help with his math assignments. Kumar was using Zoom and its whiteboard feature but every tutor and student picks the method of communication that works best for them.
"I tried it out... it was like good. The tutors there were nice. They're really nice," Loubaki said.
Connexions Tutoring is a free service.
"We want education to be 100% accessible. We don't want money or lack of transportation or anything to stop the students who need the help to be able to get the help," Kumar said.
While the service is free, they are collecting donations for the Good Neighbor Center. They've raised more than $2,000 so far. You can donate, here.
They also offer a free engineering camp for students in grades 2-8. During each lesson, students assemble a short project that demonstrates a basic physics concept. You can learn more, here.
They're also looking to help more students, especially those with family working on the front lines during COVID.
You can sign up for a tutor and learn more on the Connexions Tutoring website.