During the pandemic, a lot of the typical in-person opportunities for community service—like tutoring classmates in the library or volunteering at the local nursing home—really weren’t available. Those of us who needed community service hours as members of the National Honor Society had to brainstorm new ideas.

That’s how I came up with the concept for Blast Off Tutoring. It’s free, virtual, peer-to-peer tutoring. And it’s a way for students to safely earn community service hours by tutoring others who need a little extra support.

Since I started it last year, more and more students are coming to Blast Off for help. We’re now in three states—Florida, Michigan, and New York—and we’re planning to expand as much as possible while still always keeping it free of charge. The great thing is that a student from, say, Long Island can help a student from Grand Rapids. This leads to a bigger pool of both students and tutors, so it’s a more efficient and reliable way to get paired up with someone who can help.

After my first tutoring session, I realized the benefit our tutoring can provide. The student I worked with was a smart kid who was struggling with math. After working through the material, we reached a point where he finally understood the concept we were studying together. The look of pride on his face was fantastic! A lot of students come to the site because they could never afford the crazy rates that private tutors charge.

That high cost is one reason why tutoring isn’t always an effective solution, especially for students who live in low-income or rural areas. With Blast Off, no matter where a child lives, they can access the same tutor pool with our platform at no cost. The tutors benefit as well, because they have an opportunity to interact with a more diverse student population than they typically would. It is truly a mutually beneficial platform for all students involved.

It also fits perfectly with one of the pillars of the National Honor Society: service. Blast Off Tutoring allows students to give back to their communities in a safe and rewarding way. I get messages from both students and tutors that they are equally appreciative. I’m especially proud that it’s a free program that can help so many students.

I plan to continue the program after I graduate from high school this year. I’m definitely applying to colleges that will allow me to expand this program and enable me to work with Blast Off as part of my college studies.

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