Prapthi Jayesh Sirrkay

Prapthi Jayesh Sirrkay

Students at Eagan High School form free virtual tutoring service 

Learning can be overwhelming, especially after three months of distance learning, but a group of teens with Connexion Tutoring is here to help.

Connexion Tutoring is a growing group of high school- and college-age students providing free virtual tutoring “open to anybody in elementary, middle school and high school anywhere around the country,” said Ankitha Kumar, a rising senior at Eagan High School who is the founder and executive director.

Connexion Tutoring wants to help both those who want to get ahead and those who feel left behind.

Ankitha Kumar

Ankitha Kumar

“We had a lot of people who are behind with online classes who couldn’t connect with their teachers,” co-director Prapthi Jayesh Sirrkay said. “They want to get caught up for the fall. They want a good understanding for those base concepts so they don’t get that far behind.”

The group is currently tutoring about 75 students, but has room for more. They’re bringing in a few more tutors as well, so tutors should be available throughout the day.

“We’re trying to make this as sustainable as possible,” Kumar said. “Once school starts, we hope to host classes after school and during the weekends. This is something we plan on doing long-term.”

Most of the tutors are incoming seniors, but there are a few underclassmen and one tutor who’s going to be a freshman in college.

Current tutors include Ritvik Sriram, Alissa Linn, Pooja Kasam, Samyak Tiwari, Nandu Kasireddy, Avika Mathur, Grace Barton, Aaryan Shukla, Areej Nazir and Dhruv Bala.

Most of the tutors are from Eagan High School, although two are from California and one is from South Dakota.

“Many of the people are from the same clubs who had tutoring experience,” Sirrkay said. “They’re people we have connections with, and friends in AP classes. They’re people who know the subjects well enough to teach them.”

Kumar has been tutoring for three years already. She got her start as a volunteer at the Good Neighbor Center, a free mentoring service center in St. Paul, which had to pause tutoring due to the COVID-19 pandemic a few months ago.

“A lot of the kids I was close with, they would text me to say they have 15 assignments missing already and they needed help,” Kumar said.

So she began tutoring them virtually and the service expanded from there.

It’s not about punching up their college applications.

“We absolutely love helping out other students,” Kumar said. “It’s the highlight of our day when we’re able to teach them something they didn’t know.”

The service isn’t just for those left behind.

Kumar found that many students who are beginning accelerated programs in the fall were worried it would be overwhelming, especially after distance learning for three months.

Others are anxious about entering high school or middle school.

“We do a lot with English and grammar rules,” Sirrkay said. “We can help with the writing and essay skills before they get to high school. We do a lot with math concepts.”

They also offer free one-on-one tutoring for the ACT test. Free is the key word.

Sirrkay said preparing for the ACT is expensive and often prices many families out.

“The book is $50 and the class at Eagan High School is about $200,” Sirrkay said. “It’s unaffordable for some kids, but we have the resources. We can put it all online. We’ve all taken the ACT and gotten relatively high scores so we can give them some pretty good tips.”

The tutors will go through a practice test with the students to help them find strengths and weaknesses.

While the service is free, Connexion Tutoring asks participants to donate to the Good Neighbor Center.

Connexion has collected more than $2,000 so far.

For more information, Connexion Tutoring is at www.connexionstutoring.com.

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