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Students tutoring students

Senior math tutor Karla Meza helps 10th grader Kasey Reseck with math proofs and angles on Thursday at DHS.
Brad Coman |

Douglas High School sophomore Kasey Reseck wants to be a veterinarian, but she struggled with math and biology, both subjects she would need to achieve her goal.

“Actually my grade was a really low C,” said the 15-year-old Gardnerville resident, who moved here from Dayton a year ago. “Now it’s a high B.”

Kasey credits fellow student Karla Meza for the improvement in her grades by tutoring her through the Study Buddy Program.



“It helps me out a lot with biology,” she said. “She helps me study with those. If any student needs help, then it’s a good program.”

Karla, 17, said watching the difference in Kasey makes her effort worthwhile.



“It helps me to see what a difference you can make,” she said. “Seeing people grow and making them see their full potential is wonderful.”

The Gardnerville senior said the program helps her with her interpersonal skills.

“I want to do something with helping people nursing and speech pathology,” she said.

Kasey is one of more than 40 students participating in the program that matches students who need help with those capable of helping them.

Foothill resident Doris Chen introduced the program to Douglas High School last winter after her neighbor encouraged her to become a tutor.

The neighbor, John Bergesen, asked if Chen would help tutor.

She suggested something that would be a more efficient use of both their time, have upper class advanced students tutor the students who need help.

“If you tutor, you can only help one or two people at a time,” she said. “If you do a study buddy program, you can help more people.”

A retired software engineer for Hewlett-Packard, where she was engineering director for 14 years, Chen has experience running larger organizations.

“In the Study Buddy program, every student who needs help will be assigned a private tutor as part of the peer-to-peer program,” she said.

Chen said she understands how a student could lose track in class and require help.

“Sometimes students’ minds wander off, and they’re not paying attention at a critical moment,” she said. “Sometimes they don’t understand the teachers’ language. This is an opportunity for them to catch up.”

Because there isn’t much age difference between the students, they can communicate at nearly the same level.

Tutor Miguel Garcia said the program provides him with community service for his college applications and on his resume.

The 16-year-old junior who grew up in Carson Valley said that he has tutored math and chemistry.

Chen said the tutors also receive job experience from the program.

“I treat this as a job, and I hold you responsible for your tutee’s grades,” Chen said. “Tutors are very serious about their job, and also very proud. Some tutors tell me there are a couple of other benefits. ‘When I translate thought into speech, I realize I missed some dots and do a little bit more thinking, I understand the material even better.’”

In addition to Chen and Bergesen, retired school teacher Lorna Johnston, makes up the third Study Buddy program director.

The program wraps up for the semester a week before finals to give everyone an opportunity to study.

Bergesen is a retired aeronautical engineer who wanted to volunteer as a math tutor.

He said that when he asked Chen to tutor she raised the possibility of establishing a peer-to-peer program.

“We put the proposal together and took it to Principal Marty Swisher and Counselor Michael Caughlin, and they embraced it,” Bergesen said.

“My job is to be the guy who answers programs if a tutor needs some help,” he said. “When I see how enthusiastic the tutors are and how grateful the tutees are, that’s a reward in itself.”

Study Buddy isn’t the only way adults are helping at Douglas High School.

Counselor Kris Robison said 60 adults were willing to undergo fingerprinting and the other hurdles to mentor students.

“People from outside the school are willing to volunteer their time as a mentor,” she said.

The program started out five years ago as a means to help credit deficient sophomores complete their courses.

“Tahoe Youth and Family Services is allowing us to go through their mentor training program.”

Anyone interested in becoming a mentor or in learning more about the Study Buddy Program, may contact Robison at 782-5136, ext. 1719.