Shady Side Academy and Urban Pathways Charter Schools have announced an exciting new partnership that pairs SSA high school students with UPCS elementary school students for free tutoring sessions in math and reading for seven weeks this spring. The tutoring partnership is expected to continue into the next school year and beyond.
The tutoring sessions are being held on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon on the UPCS campus at 925 Penn Ave. in downtown Pittsburgh. Thirty-one SSA Senior School students in grades 9-12 have volunteered to serve as tutors on seven different Saturdays between Feb. 14 and May 16. The SSA students are being paired with 25 UPCS students in grades 3-5 to provide one-on-one tutoring in math and/or reading, using workbooks provided by UPCS. The Shady Side tutors attended a mandatory two-hour training and orientation session at SSA on Saturday, Jan. 31, led by UPCS fifth grade teacher Ruxandra Apostolescu and UPCS third grade teacher Laurel Newberry. Senior School Director of Service Learning Michele Ament is coordinating the program on SSA's end.
The idea for the partnership originated with SSA parent Dr. Ravi Balu, whose son, sophomore Rakesh Ravi, was looking for opportunities to tutor and mentor students with diverse and challenging backgrounds. Balu reached out to his friend, Warner Macklin, who connected him with his wife, Janine Macklin, the external engagement and grants manager at Urban Pathways. Macklin and the UPCS staff were excited by the idea of Shady Side students tutoring their students, so Balu pitched the idea of a partnership to SSA President Tom Cangiano. Cangiano eagerly embraced the idea, as it fits perfectly with the Academy's mission and strategic goals of building community partnerships and fostering the lifelong value of service in students.
On Friday, Dec. 12, two UPCS fifth grade students, along with Macklin and Urban Pathways K-5 College Charter School Principal Kimberly Fitzgerald, came to SSA to speak at Senior School assembly about the proposed tutoring/mentoring program. The students spoke of how their parents chose Urban Pathways so they could have a bright future, and how SSA students could help them to reach their goals. That afternoon, the students and Macklin were in the dining hall during lunch periods, so that interested SSA students could learn more about the program and sign up to volunteer.
"Over the past few years we've been working hard to find ways for our students to get involved in the greater Pittsburgh community, and the tutoring program at Urban Pathways is a perfect match for Shady Side students," said Cangiano. "I'm so pleased that our high school students will be serving as teachers, mentors and friends to these young learners."
"Urban Pathways is committed to providing opportunities for our students to meet their academic goals and help them to develop into leaders building pathways for success," said Fitzgerald. "The Shady Side tutoring/mentoring program will benefit students through one-on-one instructional support and practice in reading and math. UPCS families and staff are thrilled for this opportunity and partnership with Shady Side Academy. This is a 'win-win' partnership, and one we hope to continue."
Shady Side Academy is a nationally respected private school in Pittsburgh for boys and girls in grades PK-12, with an optional boarding experience in high school. Three age-specific campuses with extraordinary resources, teachers who actively mentor, a forward-thinking curriculum, a diverse and inclusive community, and a legacy of alumni accomplishments all inspire Shady Side students to high achievement in academics, the arts and athletics, and to meaningful ambitions in life.
Urban Pathways is a free public charter school in downtown Pittsburgh serving youth in grades K-12. Its mission is to help every child find a pathway that leads toward a successful adult life in the city environment and beyond. For 16 years and counting, UPCS has created a learning environment where students thrive and achieve their full potential. As a result, all students graduate and are accepted to college.