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Maranatha Teens Provide Homework Help to Rosebud Kids

Photo by Shel Segal / OUTLOOK Maranatha High School sophomore Nathaniel Nguyen tutors Pasadena Rosebud Academy students (from left) Jacob Shorter, Jeremiah Turnbull and Manny Shorter as part of an outreach program at Maranatha.
Photo by Shel Segal / OUTLOOK
Maranatha High School sophomore Nathaniel Nguyen tutors Pasadena Rosebud Academy students (from left) Jacob Shorter, Jeremiah Turnbull and Manny Shorter as part of an outreach program at Maranatha.

It’s one thing to understand a subject, but it’s entirely something different to be able to pass that knowledge on to someone else.
For a group of students from Maranatha High School, they’re finding this out for themselves.
This group has been tutoring all ages of students at Pasadena Rosebud Academy in Altadena for the past several weeks in language arts, reading comprehension and mathematics. According to Mike Mancini, a dean at Maranatha, their efforts have been very successful.
“They’re just working with the students on any assignments they have and basically just volunteering their time,” he said. “They’re coming to be servants and just help out the community.”
Mancini added as this is a nine-week project, he is happy to see the progress his students have made as tutors.
“These students are willing to go above and beyond,” he said. “They have an opportunity to do service hours, and what Maranatha believes is it’s not just about taking it in, but it’s also being able to give out and give back to the community. They’re getting service hours for this time and they’ve been doing it consistently for the past six weeks.”
Rhonda Shorter, program coordinator at Pasadena Rosebud Academy, said one of the strengths of the tutors is their age, adding that her students often respond better to the youthfulness of the Maranatha bunch.
“I believe it’s important for them to see someone not that far from their age who has mastered certain subjects and is also willing to come back and give back and do community service and be a part of something outside of themselves,” she said. “I think it’s a dual benefit.”
That “dual benefit” is something that Mancini believes cannot be underestimated.
“The (younger) kids are having fun with them,” he said. “They’re making connections. And it’s an opportunity to go outside of yourself and see you have things you can offer and share with people.”
Shorter added she believes the tutors are also learning from the younger students, who definitely have a lot to offer.
“I’m hoping that they, too, are getting the benefit of helping out, reaching out, expanding their horizons and their experiences that will hopefully lend to giving them more insight as they move forward,” Shorter said.
Mancini agreed, saying the tutors might actually be gaining more from the experience than they had initially imagined.
“I think my students are experiencing a different way of coming out of their comfort zone,” he said. “For several of them, I don’t think they’ve had this type of experience before. And this is different for them because they’re tutoring smaller kids. I think it’s really challenging them. But they all tell me how they really enjoy it.”
And will some become teachers because of this activity? Mancini said you never know.
“I can see where an experience like this would encourage them to do something like that,” he said. “The exciting part is just getting the chance to try different things. There are a lot of things our students are encouraged to do, so their high school experience is a big variety of things.”
One tutor, 17-year-old Tara Takanaka, said she wants to be a law professor in the future, adding that the experience of teaching the younger kids can’t be beat.
“I just really wanted to give back to the community,” said Takanaka, a senior. “I wanted to just grow educationally. And (the students) are just a lot of fun to be around. They’re so full of joy every single week and they’re a lot of fun. Every single time we come out laughing and smiling with all of them.”
Fellow tutor, sophomore Nathaniel Nguyen, said he is really glad he signed on for this experience.
“I saw the opportunity to help some people and I just took it,” said Nguyen, 15. “It’s always interesting to watch the kids do their homework and see how far I’ve come along with this. It’s not hard work, but it’s not boring work.”
He added his young age is definitely a plus in teaching the students at Rosebud.
“I think it helps them to have someone else who knows it fully and can help them do it better with someone who’s more relatable,” he said.
Jeremiah Turnbull, 10, and a fifth-grader at Rosebud, said because of the tutoring he is doing better in school.
“I finish my homework faster and I don’t get distracted,” he said. “They help you learn new things and just help you on the answers.”
Nine-year-old Jacob Watson, who is in the fourth grade, said he likes having the support the tutors offer.
“The best thing about having the tutors here is when you don’t know what to do, you have a tutor here to help you,” he said. “They’re teaching us to understand how to do the work.”
Fifth-grader Manny Shorter said the tutoring is helping him get better in math.
“I was doing better on my math and on my fractions,” the 10-year-old said. “They’re good at explaining. And they’re patient, too, so if I get a question wrong they’re not mean.”

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