Peeyr to Peeyr


In a dimly-lit Starbucks on the corner of Coit and Preston, senior Wendy Ho sat bent over Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” as she explained rhetorical devices to her mentee, Luke Acosta, a sophomore at John Paul II High School. With Ho’s help, Acosta was able to acquire speech analysis skills that he was not able to practice in his English class.

Ho, along with senior Kate Keough, started her work with Plano-based tutoring company Peeyr this February to help struggling students like Acosta gain the confidence needed for success in the classroom.

According to its website, Peeyr prides itself on harnessing the power of one’s peers to help a student excel on both standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, as well as in core academic classes.

Keough and Ho were driven to apply for a position at Peeyr after they learned about it from classmate Jenny Zhu this past January. And after submitting a written application and their official test scores, they were invited to interview with the co-founders, Pat Dayton and Gautam Bhargava, as well as Product Experience Head Kush Singh.

Singh, who spends most of his time designing the website and teaching tutors how to use the Peeyr platform, was impressed by Keough and Ho’s composure and intelligence during the interview. Their experience of having worked in the past with younger students through Hockaday’s tutoring program at Uplift Preparatory School gave their applications an edge.

“Kate and Wendy had prior tutoring experience, which was attractive to us,” Singh said.

“For this reason, we had full confidence that they would be great tutors.”

Keough and Ho attended an orientation about Peeyr on Jan. 7 at the University of Texas at Dallas to prepare and get acquainted with the program. According to Singh, the orientation covered the mission of the company and how to best accommodate different students and their needs.

“With personalization, these students who haven’t had a lot of experience in these courses in the past can really succeed,” Singh said. “We want [tutors] to make every session as interesting as possible so that students are actually learning.”

Keough can attest to the idea that Peeyr’s personalization is necessary, as each student’s personality is unique. “One of my girls is a very quiet ninth grader who treats me like I am way older than her, and I also have another ninth grader and we have more of a friendship,” she said.

For all of their sessions with students like these, Keough and Ho receive a personalized tutoring schedule that outlines the lesson to teach and how to teach it. After each session, they fill out a log to evaluate and track the student’s progress towards her goals.

For example, in her tutoring sessions with Acosta, Ho reports the specific chemistry and English concepts that they tackle in each individual lesson.

Most recently, Acosta recalled working on quote analysis from eminent speechwriters, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “It was a good discussion and we tried to decode [MLK’s] language,” he said.

Acosta uses his lessons with Wendy to fill in gaps in his understanding.

“In class, there is a PowerPoint in class and there is no interaction between the teacher and the student,” Acosta said. “My work with Wendy is more about the deeper meanings about what the lines meant and the paragraphs meant.”

He also believed that his relationship with Ho is more personal, since she is closer to his age than an adult tutor.

“We are good friends and acquaintances and it’s not really so much a teacher/student relationship because we are both in high school,” Luke said.

And Acosta benefits from working with a peer. “A high schooler has been in similar situations and has gone over that same basic curriculum,” he said.

While both community service and tutoring with Peeyr involve working with younger students, Ho said this work is different than her previous community service experiences at schools like Uplift Preparatory School.

“At Uplift, you’re both a babysitter and a tutor, but with Peeyr, you are a tutor and older friend,” she said.

And in addition to the relationships that they have forged along the way, both Ho and Keough believe they have gained invaluable skills from these jobs – their first jobs.

“I think [tutoring at Peeyr] is a direct application of your education and you get money and the opportunity to help someone else,” Ho said.

Keough agreed. “There will be SAT material that you forgot from two years ago and you just have to make the most of the situation,” Keough said. “This was my first job and it has really taught me to think on my feet.”

Eshani Kishore – Features Editor