Nine-year old Theo has been having a hard time with reading and is losing confidence. Theo’s been spending a little extra time with his school’s reading specialist, but his teacher has recommended additional attention. Theo’s mother has struggled to find the energy to read with Theo at the end of the work day.
She browsed the MentorBuddies site and found Jake, a high school senior. Jake’s profile said that was taking AP English, had scored in the 90% percentile on his verbal SAT and also volunteered at a local elementary school as a reading assistant. But what caught Theo’s mother’s attention was that Jake had read the “Harry Potter” series 5 times and was a "superfan." Theo had wanted to start the first book but had been intimidated to do so.
Theo’s mother registered on MentorBuddies and sent a message to Jake. They arranged for Jake to come to the house the following Tuesday at 6pm. While she prepared dinner, she listened in as Jake patiently helped Theo read aloud in the next room.
Jake has been coming twice a week to Theo's house for the past 6 weeks and Theo’s improvement has been noticeable to his teacher. Jake has created a “sticker challenge” for Theo, where he earns different stickers for being able to correctly pronounce an increasing number of complex words. With Jake’s assistance, Theo is now about 150 pages into the first Harry Potter book. Jake has made it fun, cleverly imitating different characters' voices along the way. Theo’s mom is immensely proud of his progress.
Jessie is a 12-year old passionate about software coding. Looking to fuel her interest, Jessie’s parents signed her up for a coding class at a local science camp. They were disappointed that the class had 15 students with just one teacher, and Jessie had a hard time getting much attention. Now her parents have begun looking into professional coding tutors, but are having sticker shock at the rates they’re seeing. Neither of them is technical and they are having a hard time assessing the differences between the high-priced alternatives.
It was Jessie who found MentorBuddies. Of the four high school students profiled under the “Coding” skill who lived close by, Jessie and her parents chose Natalie, a 17-year old high school junior. Natalie’s profile indicated that she had been coding since she was 10 years old, listed all the various software languages she knew and displayed a photo of her holding a first-place trophy at a recent statewide hackathon. Natalie explained her work with the non-profit "Girls Who Code” and how one of her passions was helping younger girls develop their coding skills.
Jessie's mother created a profile on MentorBuddies and messaged Natalie. After addressing some logistical details, Natalie came to the Jessie's house on a Sunday morning. Natalie has been coming for 4 months now, and her relationship with Jessie continues informally in online chats. Natalie is teaching Jessie Python, Ruby on Rails and Java, and together they have created a video game that Jessie now plays with her friends. Natalie communicates regularly about Jessie’s progress, and has recommended a science camp she personally attended that caters to girls. Jessie's parents are well aware of how technology drives today’s economy and are increasingly excited about her future path.
Josh is an eight-year old who’s excited about music, but he has tried multiple instruments and has had a hard time sticking with one for long. Most recently, Josh wanted to try individual instruction for piano. After searching around for a piano teacher whose schedule fit with Josh’s, Josh’s parents settled on a kind older woman. Unfortunately Josh had no chemistry with her, and then refused to practice. With individual lessons costing $90 per hour, Josh’s parents decided to pull the plug after just a month.
Now Josh is expressing an interest in guitar. His parents love his enthusiasm for music, but are determined to find a new approach that works better. Josh visited the MentorBuddies site with his parents and chose Noah, a high school sophomore, from the guitar mentors listed. In his profile, Noah said he’d been playing guitar since he was 9 and plays in a band. A video Noah had uploaded showed him in action at a recent concert. Josh’s parents booked a session with Noah for a Thursday evening.
Noah brought an older guitar of his to lend Josh. During that first lesson, Noah and Josh found YouTube videos of popular songs Josh liked, and Josh worked with Noah to learn the chords. Josh's mother observed an easy rapport between the boys, completely different than it had been with the piano teacher.
Josh has taken 7 lessons from Noah so far. Noah mostly comes to Josh’s house, but a couple of times in the fall, they’ve met at a nearby park and sat under a tree. Josh clearly sees Noah as a role model and a new cool buddy. Josh’s parents don’t know whether Josh will stick with guitar or not, but they're excited to give Josh this opportunity to figure it out, on an affordable basis.