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New Student-created Club Inspires Young English Language Learners

The idea took root during a meal.

“We were thinking of ways to give back to the community and gain some experience in working with other schools,” says Mark Ambrosino, a Grade 11 student at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS).

So, he teamed up with fellow student Anish Krishanthan.

Mark Ambrosino and Anish  Krishanthan, Gr 11 SMCS students
Mark Ambrosino and Anish Krishanthan, Grade 11 students at St. Michael’s College School, are the co-founders of the Study Buddies Club.

“I decided to start the club when I was inspired by my sister who started a non-profit tutoring service called Kids Help Kids,” says Krishanthan, also in Grade 11. “I saw the lasting impact that she was making with her students and I decided that I wanted to help others the way she did and bring that opportunity to St. Michael’s. I originally thought of the idea during lunch and asked if he [Mark] would help me bring this idea to life.”

And soon the Study Buddies initiative at SMCS was born.

“Every Monday and Wednesday, a group of Grade 11 students at SMCS gather in the library and/or computer room for the first half-hour of lunch,” explains Ambrosino. “Using Zoom, we work with young students, including ESL students from Holy Rosary [Catholic School] to develop their English reading and speaking skills.”

SMCS Study Buddies school club members

The students from Holy Rosary, an elementary school situated diagonally across from SMCS, range in age from six to 11 years old, and are currently in Grades 1, 2, and 6.

“We have a very structured reading programme set up,” says Ms. Ferreira, ESL Teacher at Holy Rosary who helps facilitate the Study Buddies group. “Tutors are paired with a student and rotate halfway through the term. Our English language learners benefit tremendously from the extra practice and social interaction with the St. Mike’s tutors.”

The SMCS students also help their younger counterparts with reading comprehension and word meanings during each session.

To date, there are four Holy Rosary students and four SMCS students taking part, with plans to keep growing.

SMCS Study Buddies school club member

“Mark and I contacted many schools who may be interested in providing our service at their schools,” says Krishanthan. “Schools who thought they could benefit from our service scheduled times for us to meet with their students and offer tutoring.”

Their goal is to expand to other schools and age groups come September (2022). For now, Study Buddies continues to grow within the halls of SMCS, and on both sides of the screen.

“I decided to participate because it is a great opportunity to get involved in the surrounding community,” says Ben Tubbe, a Grade 11 student. “The students’ English skills have greatly improved since the beginning of the year. All of their reading levels have increased, and I noticed that they are becoming more comfortable talking. I have learned how important it is to be patient with the students!”

SMCS Study Buddies school club member, Ben Tubbe, Gr. 11
Grade 11 student Ben Tubbe is among four SMCS students taking part in the new Study Buddies Club.

The exchange with young minds has also proved rewarding for Krishanthan, who intends to pursue an MBA in the future.

“I have developed my teaching skills and have learned to convey information in a simple and easy to grasp way,” he says. “The students we help are excited to have tutoring sessions because it doesn’t only mean that they can learn and understand new material, it also means that they get to meet with another one of their friends. Our tutors form a bond with the students they tutor, and it enhances their learning experience.”

SMCS Study Buddies school club member

From her vantage point, the results have been most encouraging for Ferreira.

“To date, I am very delighted with the assistance my ESL students have received from this dedicated and affable group of young men,” she says. “I hope they have also enjoyed the experience of volunteering in the school community.”

SMCS students, Mark Ambrosino and Anish  Krishanthan started Studies Buddies school club

For Study Buddies’ co-founders — whether supporting young learners or mentoring fellow SMCS students interested in joining — the inspiration continues.

“I enjoy when students are enthusiastic about meeting with me,” says Krishanthan. “When students show that they are learning and it is a fun experience for them, it lets me know that I am doing a good job.”

Adds Ambrosino, “This club is a rewarding way to spend school time and collect volunteering hours. It is not a very big commitment, but it is enjoyable spending time with friends at St. Mike’s while helping younger students!”

SMCS Study Buddies school club members

Related links:

Learn about other Clubs and Activities at St. Michael’s College School.

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