How Our Story Began
Ronnie Schwartz, founder and President of Students Connecting, was trained as a Spanish and French language educator and taught both languages to middle and high school students in the New England area.
During one of Ronnie’s Spanish Level ll high school classes, she asked her students to work together in teams of two to prepare dialogues based on topics they had just studied. Ronnie selected students who had mastered specific material, and “matched” them with students who needed additional support. Each team worked together to prepare their dialogues, which they were assigned to present to their classmates on the following day. Ronnie observed a higher level of motivation in all team members when they worked together than when they worked alone, and their dialogues were well written, and presented with great enthusiasm! Students who had helped their teammates were pleased to discover their talents, and felt empowered as team leaders!
Ronnie implemented this “team” approach in all of her Spanish Level ll classes to see if it would work as well with all of her students. She asked students to work together in teams of two on specific assignments during class sessions. She noticed that students enjoyed working together, and were much more engaged in their language learning activities. After noticing a significant improvement in many of her students’ oral and written language skills as measured by their quizzes and tests, she asked individual students “what” they thought helped them make these positive changes. Overwhelmingly, students attributed their progress to being fully involved and “connected” during their student to student “team” sessions, and stated that they gained additional support from their team members in areas where they had previously faced obstacles!
Ronnie recognized that she was facilitating a “student tutoring” learning model that resulted in an increased spark for language learning! Many students continued to work outside of school with their “student tutor” team members—and stated that their “student tutoring connections” gave them the ability to move ahead as their coursework became more challenging.
Excited by the successes of her Spanish Level ll students, Ronnie decided to implement this “student tutoring” approach with all of her Spanish language students—from Level 1 through Advanced Placement levels. Ronnie found that students at all levels, and with all academic capabilities enjoyed working together to achieve their academic goals as they totally immersed themselves in Spanish language and culture!
Case Study: Ronnie’s Son
When Ronnie’s son was in high school, he began to feel overwhelmed in several academic areas and was becoming extremely frustrated. Ronnie shared the successes that her students had experienced with the “student tutoring” team approach with him, and Ronnie’s son agreed to give it a try.
Ronnie contacted several of her son’s teachers and academic department coordinators and shared her idea for “student-tutoring” with them. She asked each teacher and department coordinator to recommend students who had achieved mastery in the specific subject areas in which her son needed help, and who might like to provide tutoring services for her son.
After several phone calls and interviews, Ronnie’s son selected three “student tutors”. Ronnie and her son negotiated schedules and fees with each of the “student tutors”, and discussed expectations and course materials. Since state exams were to take place during the semester, the student tutors committed to work with her son over the next three months…
Ronnie noticed how her son looked forward to meeting with his “student tutors” each week, and how he began to feel more confident in each subject. She also noticed the energy and passion each of the “student tutors” had for their individual subject areas and how easily they succeeded in sharing their enthusiasm with her son. Before the end of the semester, her son’s grades improved in each subject, and he went on to achieve a high 80% + score in each of his state examinations!
Throughout the next three years of high school, whenever he felt that he needed additional support, Ronnie’s son asked his teachers for the names of “student tutors” who could help him in specific areas. He built strong “connections” with each of his “student tutors” and graduated high school with an Advanced Regents High School Diploma.
When her son started college as a broadcast journalism and public relations major, he asked Ronnie where he could find “student tutors” to help him stay on track with his coursework. The light suddenly went on in Ronnie’s head! She thought, “What if there was a central location where students seeking tutoring services could “connect” with student tutors providing tutoring services?
The Creation of Students Connecting
Ronnie began to think about the logistics of creating a “student to student” tutoring resource, where students seeking tutoring services could find, connect and communicate with student tutors providing tutoring services. She began by asking herself a slew of questions:
“How can we work together with students to develop an interactive website that is appealing to them and easy to navigate for students and parents?”
“How can we develop this resource to address the needs of students who may find it easier to learn specific academic material in Spanish, or in another language, in addition to English?”
“How can we ensure that we are providing a resource to include all students who may have specific learning needs and abilities”?
“How can we make “student tutoring connections” relevant to students who may prefer studying in person, online, or who prefer using a mobile device / web enabled communication platform as they communicate with each other?
As her excitement grew, Ronnie became determined to create the first multilingual online service exclusively dedicated to “connecting” students and parents of students seeking tutoring services with student tutors providing tutoring services” that would live up to her high expectations!
She started talking to students and parents to see if they believed that an online “student tutoring” matching service would be a valuable resource. The response from both students and parents was overwhelmingly positive! Many of the parents and students Ronnie spoke with made great suggestions for the site, including what information, format, and resources would be helpful to them as they searched for prospective student tutors. Many students shared that they would feel a stronger “connection” if they joined and became “members” of an online “community”!
Ronnie continued to research and learn as much as she could about developing her vision and business concept with the goal of providing the highest level of innovation, value, service and satisfaction to all members!
Gratitude and Success!
It is with great pride and gratitude to everyone who has provided help, support and inspiration along the way—and to everyone who continues to make Ronnie’s vision a reality—that we launch Students Connecting!