By Poʻo Kumu Lehua Veincent with Kumu Joshua Smith
Poʻo Kumu Lehua and Kumu Joshua describe how the Holopono Academic Success Center utilizes peer tutoring as a catalyst for haumāna academic success and achievement.
Responding to a Need
A new resource for our ʻŌiwi Edge ecosystem includes the Holopono Academic Success Center (HASC) at Kula Kiʻekiʻe. Founded by Dr. Lehua Veincent, Poʻo Kumu of Kula Kiʻekiʻe, the Center aims to leverage a myriad of haumāna resources with flexibility and availability. A key resource provided through the HASC is peer tutoring, commonly practiced in higher education and highly successful. Based on several visits to different colleges and universities, Dr. Veincent established the HASC with a current focus on leveraging peer tutoring services in response to a clear need for peer-to-peer learning activities. While we retain highly qualified and competent Kumu, HASC is uniquely positioned to engage learning from a “leveled” playing field. Specifically, peer tutoring is based on evidence that points to successful haumāna-led instructional strategies as a supplement for learning.
Peer tutoring at the HASC is designed to serve several purposes beyond a typical academic resource. The Center has been granted a rare opportunity where, for the first time in the school’s history, students are able to work a relatively substantial number of hours at school during the school day. To capitalize on this opportunity, we look for candidates who have availability and interest in working on campus. After this initial logistic is addressed, there are several characteristics and qualities that we seek. Peer tutors demonstrate aptitude in particular content areas; have an interest in teaching as a profession; exhibit empathy and patience; and can effectively interact with others. Peer tutoring services are accessible via this website: where students can exercise agency and independence by requesting tutoring support for themselves. We see this as kuleana and good practice, or rather a defined skillset that can be applied after our students move on.
Peer tutoring services also include opportunities where Kumu can request a tutor to audit their classroom, provide one-on-one assistance and/or float around the classroom helping anyone who may need support. Lastly, homeroom advisors, counselors, and administrators can request to meet with a representative of the Center for students identified as potentially needing tutoring services. The Center includes an adult tutoring component when students need a particular level of tutoring or when large groups of students with overlapping needs are identified. Working in conjunction with educational assistants, HASC personnel determine the most appropriate form of tutoring.
At present, the main focus of the Holopono Academic Success Center is providing peer tutoring services. Once this service is firmly established, the Center would like to roll out a mentoring program where for example, upperclassmen are paired with lowerclassmen who pass down school traditions and expectations. Another program that we would like to establish is a space for students to congregate and lead seminars that pertain to tips and tricks for having a successful high school experience.
Center Nuances: Accountability, Responsivity, and Organization
Mr. Joshua Smith coordinates the Center. From keeping track of all students attending various tutoring sessions across the division, to responding to requests in a timely manner. Our primary intention throughout the day is safety when managing the different moving parts, from tutors to tutees. Being highly organized and a having a willingness to operate expeditiously sums up Joshua.
Facilitating Help-Seeking Behaviors as a Measure of Success
An underlying goal with the Center is to destigmatize seeking academic assistance and explore new avenues for understanding material presented to students. The HASC is not aiming to replace or supplant in-classroom instruction by an educator, rather the aim is to supplement it. The Center offers students an opportunity to try different ways of thinking about new material initially learned in the classroom. The Holopono ASC hopes to be a place where knowledge can be refined through support from peer tutors. Likewise, students who feel comfortable with seeking and receiving tutoring would be another desired measure of success. And thus, the number of haumāna who voluntarily attend tutoring sessions would tell us if we are on the right track. Ultimately, we hope to see a relationship between academic improvement and peer tutoring along with increased learning as additional outcomes.
A Personalized Image of Success
The greatest reward for me when it comes to the Holopono Academic Success Center is bearing witness to a student who was initially struggling in a subject. Then, after learning from their peer and seeing a lightbulb going off, the thing they were struggling with finally clicks. I have dedicated my life to academia and at its core, it is the pursuit of knowledge. Being able to see these short and fleeting moments, though brief, are tremendously rewarding.
Through the Center, students are afforded opportunities to self-advocate for their own learning supports. These are the seeds that will bear fruit when they advocate for themselves in their communities, workplaces, politics, and beyond. The Center also gives tutors opportunities to share their knowledge, strategies and leadership skills while also exploring career possibilities. As we continue to develop programs and services at the HASC, we envision a thriving ecosystem where agency, advocacy, and responsibility for one’s learning are key elements.