A Day in the Life: Kelley Benck, Great Oaks Legacy High School Tutor


5:30 AM – I hit snooze a couple of times before I crawl out of bed. I head into my living room in my Teacher’s Village apartment in downtown Newark to make myself a cup of tea and read the New York Times and the BBC.

6:00 AM – I scarf down some breakfast while I make my lunch and get ready for the day.

6:50 AM – I check for the twentieth time that I have my water bottle, keys, and tutorial materials for the day, then take the ten minute walk to the high school from Teacher’s Village.

7:15 AM – I head to the second floor library space for our staff morning meeting run by either the Tutor Corps Manager, Mr. Jacobs, or the high school director, Ms. Belden, to get updates and reminders for the day. This is also a great time for all the tutors to check-in with various class materials or questions to make sure we’re all on the same page and ready for the school day.

7:20 AM – Once students arrive at school, they go to their lockers, get in uniform, grab breakfast, and head to their homerooms to turn in their homework. During homeroom students eat their school-supplied breakfast and listen to the daily announcements. Similar to Hogwarts, when students come to Great Oaks they are placed in a house (Malcolm X, Indira Gandhi, Frederick Douglas, or Jackie Robinson). I go to my “Malcolm X” homeroom for 11th and 12th grade students and set out the homework folders. The houses are designed for students to be able to build comradery and school spirit.

8:15 AM – Students are dismissed from homeroom and head to their first period class. I have a free period during this time, which I spend collecting the tutorial packets for the day, reviewing my tutorial plans, and checking my students’ grades so I can speak with them about any red flags.

9:15 AM – 11:12 – My second and third period is very different compared to most tutors. I work with a group of 6 seniors who are taking Elementary Statistics from a professor from Essex County College. The professor meets with these students for 1.5 hours Tuesday and Thursday mornings, where I essentially act as in-class support. With the remaining time left after the professor’s lecture, I will go over topics from that day’s lecture that students are still struggling with. On days when the professor does not come for class, I prepare lectures on material the students need additional practice with, provide them with supplemental homework assignments, and answer questions about their assigned textbook problems. At 10:15, during period 3 I do the Active Study tutorial activity for the day.

11:15 – 12:12 – For period 4 I return to the typical duties of a tutor. 11th and 12th grade students participate in “Active Study” for their tutorial. The objective is to encourage students to become more independent with their school work, learn to utilize resources other than their tutor for help, and develop strong study skills so they can be better prepared for college. Each day of the week focuses on a different skill: Monday-ACT/SAT prep, Tuesday-Study Skills Development, and Wednesday and Thursday are Math or ELA depending on which tutor the students meet with.

12:15 – 12: 45 – The 11th and 12th grade students have lunch at this time. I help the Operations Team set up lunch, track students who take a lunch for the day (to help the Operations Team consistently order the correct amount of lunches), and then clean up.

12:47 – 2:47 – Time for my lunch! I usually take about 15 minutes for myself to eat and step away from work. I spend the remainder of my free period making parent phone calls, preparing future tutorial materials, or doing work for my secondary duty. Aside from my tutorial obligations, I work with Academic Support. My focus is to track and support new and retained students to make sure they are offered the help and material to succeed in school. I meet with the retained students during homeroom to have a weekly check-in, listen to their questions or concerns and review their work and performance for the week. In addition, I work with those students’ tutors to see how myself or other staff can better support the tutors and the students.

2:50 – 3:45 –  I begin my 10th grade geometry tutorial. On Mondays and Wednesdays my group does the tutorial packet given for geometry that week, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays we utilize a math computer program called ALEKS.

3:54 – All students are dismissed from class, I quickly make sure my tutorial area is clean and then head outside to assist with dismissal for the day.

4:00 – 5:00 – On Mondays and Tuesdays some students stay after school for PM Academy. The purpose of this time is for students to be able to do their homework for that night as well as get assistance from their tutors on any of their class material. In the winter I will be helping coach the boys basketball team. We will practice three days a week at a local gym in Newark after school and have a study hall for the remaining two days of the week.

5:15 – I leave school and head to the gym at Rutgers Newark. When I get home I make dinner and finish any prep work for the week or help grade the 10th grade College Action class materials. Usually students will text me for help on their homework assignments or some will call if they just need someone to talk with.

Kelly Benck graduated from Gonzaga University with a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry. After her year of service, she will pursue a career in medicine as a physician.


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