“I learn best when I teach others,” shares Kyra Spahn ’23, founder of Tutorpeers, an online tutoring platform built by students for students.
Kyra’s experience is not unique — research has shown that when students teach, and learn from, fellow students, a deeper understanding of the material is fostered and the benefits are mutual. What is unique, however, is Tutorpeers. While there are numerous online options for finding a college or grad student tutor, and countless more for professional tutors, only Tutorpeers is designed exclusively to connect middle and high school students with one another any time anywhere.
Accessible and affordable, Tutorpeers was launched in September and has quickly become a go-to platform on campus. “I’m so excited that students in Dwight’s own after-school tutoring program are using it. So are Dwight Global students,” Kyra says. “It’s taken off quickly and I hope to expand it to other Dwight campuses around the world and beyond!”
How It Works
A student can register as a learner, tutor, or both and then select from a range of subject areas: math, physics, chemistry, biology, history, English/EAL, and world languages. Learners can request homework help right away or schedule a time to work with a tutor to improve their grades and study for exams together. Students often learn better and faster from someone closer to their own age, and those who tutor reinforce and deepen the knowledge they recently gained in class while helping others. They also have the added benefits of earning practical experience and money.
Tutorpeers matches students ages 13 and older using custom algorithms to find the best fit based on common interests, grade level, location, and more to meet their learning goals, availability, and budget in a safe and secure space. The mission of Tutorpeers is to make high-quality student tutoring accessible to students worldwide regardless of their location or financial circumstances so that they can reach their highest potential and educational goals.
From Concept to Reality
As a seventh grader, Kyra originally brought the germ of the idea for Tutorpeers to Spark Tank, Dwight’s student incubator created to nurture student innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills. That year, she learned about the steps in the design thinking cycle in Design class with her teacher, Matt Moran, Director of Technology and Innovation, and extended that learning with him after school in Spark Tank. Mr. Moran has also guided countless other students working on their passion projects in Spark Tank, which he has spearheaded since its inception in 2015.
“Mr. Moran provided feedback and helped me figure out where I wanted to go with Tutorpeers,” Kyra explains. “I cemented the idea after creating a proposal and business plan for my tenth grade Personal Project, also with Mr. Moran’s guidance. Part of that process included researching the competition, and when I found that there was nothing that filled that niche, I decided to take it to the next step. I explored a range of popular websites for teens to determine what features and design elements I wanted Tutorpeers to have and then began working with developers,” Kyra reports. It took three-four months to build the prototype and a few more months to test and refine it prior to going live.
Pursuing a Passion Early on
Kyra has been interested in education since elementary school; she chose to do her fifth grade PYP Exhibition project on the topic of inequities in access to education and methods to improve them globally. In grade 8, she followed that with her LaGuardia research paper about different pedagogical approaches around the world, saying, “the work I have done over time through different projects has enabled me to pursue my interest and explore different aspects of education, ultimately helping me to maintain my motivation to turn Tutopeers into a reality.”
Education is also a subject well known to Kyra outside of school; her father is Dwight’s Vice Chancellor, her mother is Head of Admissions for Grades K-8, and her grandfather is the Chancellor. Kyra credits Chancellor Spahn with inspiring her to follow through with her innovative ed-tech concept. “He is such an idea man and saw the potential in Tutorpeers. He really pushed me to keep going and I am so grateful to him.”
So, too, has Spark Tank enabled Kyra to keep her eye on problem solving in the educational space. The first time she participated was with a team of fellow fifth graders and their Music teacher, Vita Zambetti. They presented an idea for a community service group called SPARKlers to bring music and music education to schools and communities that are underprivileged. When Kyra presented Tutorpeers on her own a few years later, she embarked on a more robust Spark Tank journey that took her through the complete five-stage developmental cycle from concept to market launch. She shares that it was the Spark Tank panel of judges who advised to see Tutorpeers as a platform and community rather than just a website, and describes the incubator experience as a lesson in persistence. “It can take a long time to develop and refine something tangible and I learned what that really takes. It’s important to stick to it.”
The future of Tutorpeers may be linked to Kyra’s own future. She wants to pursue a career in medicine and can envision bringing the platform with her to medical school for fellow doctors in training. Whether or not there is a Tutorpeers 2.0 or 3.0 in the offing, one thing is for sure: Kyra brought her innovative vision to life with equally impressive creativity and perseverance, and is already making a difference to benefit learners and tutors alike. Learn more about Tutorpeers here and in the video below. Students who sign up by December 31 will receive a free tutoring session!