By Damon Markiewicz

The Springfield College Academic Success Center Peer Tutor Program is one of the most impactful academic support programs on campus. It’s the hard work of the Academic Success Center staff, and its peer tutors, that allows for students to get the academic assistance they need. Participating tutors not only help their peers, but they gain valuable skills that assist them in their professional experiences as well.

“Not only do our tutors provide direct academic assistance to students, but they receive training that leads to a tutoring certification through the College of Reading and Learning Association,” said Assistant Director of the Academic Success Center: Tutorial Services Brian Hyer. “Along the way, our tutors gain impactful skills that will transfer to whatever profession they choose. Simply put, their jobs are an important part of their educational experience.”

As a result of strong leadership and a direct vision from Academic Success Center Director Andrew Wilcox, the Academic Success Center’s tutorial services have grown by leaps and bounds over the last 15 years. 

“The credit for that growth over the last six years belongs to Brian Hyer,” added Wilcox. “I was hired 15 years ago by Springfield College to create the ASC. We started with four professional staff members and three of those individuals were focused on our disability services. That left me to run anything not related to disability services. For many years our peer tutoring program was one of my main responsibilities.”

Wilcox added, “While I strove to create a number of tutor training opportunities, my attention was spread too thin to get the results I envisioned. I was fortunate enough for several years to work with Dr. Missy-Marie Montgomery, who trained the writing tutors. Missy was lively, wise and awesome in this role. Seeing her work, I really wanted the ASC to have a full-fledged tutor training program for all our tutors. Real change for the College’s tutoring program happened six years ago, when Brian Hyer joined the ASC. Brian quickly fulfilled his charge to create a tutor training program for all peer tutors and have it certified by the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA). Ever since, Brian has thoughtfully shepherded the ASC’s Tutorial Services and created the program I had hoped for.”

The Academic Success Center peer tutors strive to empower all Springfield College students in cultivating the skills, strategies, and behaviors in becoming confident and independent learners.

Occupational Therapy major Erin Richards talks about her passion for being a tutor.

“We receive about 10 weeks of training that includes problem-solving skills, how to answer questions, how to refer students to resources on campus, creating goals for the session, and beyond that session,” said occupational therapy major Erin Richards, who has been tutoring since her sophomore year. “We feel so comfortable because of the training we receive, by the time we meet with students, we feel very confident we can help.”

For the participating peer tutors, the accomplishments they experience with the Academic Success Center only compliments their professional growth as well.

“The skills I have gained in tutoring have really helped me in the professional setting as well,” said physical therapy major Paige Dube. “Being a peer tutor has sharpened my interpersonal skills, and advanced my experiences in working with people. Building trust with people is a huge part of the physical therapy major, and the peer tutor experience has helped me improve those skills.”

It’s the confidence gained as a peer tutor that also allows students the opportunity to feel secure when taking on new challenges, both as a student and as a professional.

“The confidence I have been able to receive as a peer tutor is important because I have the experience of working with people and directly seeing the helpful impact I have had in our sessions,” said communications/sports journalism major Carley Crain. “A big part of that confidence comes from helping others. When you see the positive impact you have on a fellow student, it makes you feel good.”

The peer tutor program is another example of students living our Humanics philosophy on a daily basis. It’s the thought of giving back, and genuinely helping others, that allows for the peer tutors to know they are assisting for all the right reasons.

Physical Therapy major Paige Dube talks about how being a peer tutor helps with professional skills.

“It really comes down to caring about people, and that’s what the peer tutoring program reflects,” said Dube. “We get that feeling from Brian (Hyer) when he is training us. As tutors, we don’t forget those fellow students who helped us, so it’s only natural to want to do the same in return.”

And if you are a student on campus who is thinking of paying it forward and giving back as well, your current peer tutors have some great advice.

“Students thrive on helping other students, that peer-to-peer connection is impactful,” said Richards. “To see the impact you can have on somebody else, there is no better feeling. I am proud to be a member of the Academic Success Center. This experience has helped me grow as a student, as a tutor, and as a professional.”