Colin Sistare ’13 entered Dublin's Learning Skills Program, working with tutor Jenny Foreman, last year as a sophomore struggling with homework completion, organization, and general study skills. In just one year he has improved in all areas of his academics and is now proudly achieving Honors.
Describe your transformation as a student in the past year…
Colin: I'd say that at the beginning of last year I would kind of laze my way through the day, thinking that I would have time for whatever I didn't do today, tomorrow. I did not have an urgent need to think about my future. That perspective snowballed into me never really getting my work done, or at least not doing it thoroughly and completely. As I started tutorial, my attitude toward school started to change – I realized that I only had 2 1/2 years left of high school and not all the time in the world. I needed to do my work completely and on time and put forth an ample amount of effort to get where I wanted to go.
Ms Foreman: I have seen Colin grow into a much more proactive, conscientious, and confident student. Where he once would come into my office and sit down and wait for me to go through his assignments and materials, he now comes in with his own plan and a great awareness of what he needs some support with, and what he can do on his own time. It is so fulfilling to witness a student transform in this way.
What are some of the things you struggle with academically? How does tutorial give you support in these areas?
Colin: Writing papers is one of the hardest things for me. I am not a bad writer, but I sometimes have trouble getting my thoughts on paper in the correct context and with the meaning and mechanics that will best convey my ideas. Tutorial allows me to have someone who knows more about writing and has been writing longer give me in depth support on the whole process. Ms. Foreman looks at my writing and offers constructive criticism and makes sure I stay within the guideline of what the teacher has asked and fully meet those guidelines.
What is a memorable moment in your academic career that you feel tutorial helped you achieve?
Colin: In my World History 2 class last year, I had to do a research paper as the final project. It counted for a large percentage of the final grade. I was excited about the idea and we spent a lot of time preparing and researching before we began writing. Next we made an outline and then two drafts of the paper. Although the teacher mapped out the process for us, I would never have fully gone through with completing all the parts without the support of tutorial. Ms. Foreman helped me focus on doing the project one step at a time, and discussed each part of the process with me so that I was really clear about what I needed to do. To be able to spend the time on my paper, I had to do more of my day to day homework on my own instead of in tutorial, so this process also helped me gain responsibility for my own work.
I ended up doing really well on the paper and it made me feel incredibly happy and grateful that I have tutorial – it reminded me that I could be a good student. It was nice to be able to do well academically for a change - it was a cool feeling - and a feeling that I wanted to repeat so it gave me more motivation to do better in all of my classes…
How have your study habits changed as a result of tutorial?
Colin: I actually study now! Before, I never really studied for anything, not even exams. I just thought that they weren't really that important. Tutorial helped me realize that I am here to learn and not just to hang out. There is plenty of time to hang out with friends outside of the school day and during the school day and during study hall I need to use it for academic purposes.
Ms Foreman: Colin uses his study hall time productively and is eager to keep track of his assignments by using a planner. When we first began working together, it felt much more like each day was picking up where we left off. Now each day is generally on to the next thing. Paper-writing continues to be something we focus on - though Colin’s process is much more self-driven than a year ago. I find now that once I provide him with some formulas for note-taking or paper writing, for example, he can now take on the process more independently.
What is the greatest benefit or purpose of tutorial?
Colin: It is nice knowing that someone always has your back academically. When I am forgetting something, Ms Foreman will always remind me, and if I am doing poorly, she is there to help me persevere, to remind me what I need to do, and encourage me to work harder.
Ms. Foreman: My goal may sound a bit funny, but it is to give my students the support and skills that they need so that I become a less important part of their picture - in other words, to help them develop as a student so that they eventually no longer need the support of tutorial. The one-on-one relationship that I can form with each of my students really enables us to work together to identify and implement a unique plan of action for improving their academic performance. I am so proud of Colin’s accomplishments. His awareness of himself as a student has really changed, and the hard work he has put in has paid off. And these are skills that will stay with him long past Dublin!
What skills do you think you will carry with you beyond Dublin?
Colin: Definitely writing skills - the process of going through the steps to make sure I am writing well, getting thoughts down, backing them up, citing sources etc. I have also learned how to be responsible for my own work, to be organized enough to know what the work I need to do is, and to understand the value of paying attention in class.
I can honestly say that I wouldn't be the student or more importantly the person I am today without Ms. Foreman’s guidance, and her kindness to me. At prep school it can be tough living away from your parents and such, but having Ms. Foreman makes it much easier. Whether it’s school related or just a random high school problem, she is there to offer advice and help me through rough times.
Ms. Foreman: And celebrate the good stuff!
Colin: Thanks Ms. Foreman!