Learning Commons adjusts to new academic schedule

Tutoring also now available during office hours


Cathedran file photo

A large monitor in the Learning Commons enhances the tutoring experience.

Alysse Neal, Reporter

The Learning Commons is finding new ways to reach students, according to the director, Mr. Parker Leisure, with an app called Nexus and an adjusted schedule for the start of the second semester.

With classes now beginning on the Hill at 9 a.m., the Learning Commons is open all day during the school day as well as during office hours on days 1, 3 and 5.

The app has online tutors available to help students. Senior Kieran McCauley, one of the students who volunteers as a tutor, said, “I like how Nexus allows us to work with students online.”

Leisure said, “There are a lot of things we have to do differently to ramp up our online presence, so we have online tutoring that is available on Nexus.” The Nexus app has been downloaded to every student’s iPad.

Leisure noted that the Learning Commons also offers Zoom as an alternative to Nexus if online students are more comfortable with that platform.

This semester Leisure also hopes to promote Nexus to teachers. Leisure said this would help boost traffic just to get people familiar with the app. The goal is to make people aware, and he hopes teachers will become familiar with it and recommend their students to use it.

During on-campus instruction, the Learning Commons saw between 10 and 15 students a day. Before the school switched  to eLearning, Leisure said he was starting to see an increase in the number of students. More teachers started to send students to receive support in the Learning Commons, and students were starting to go by themselves. Leisure said, “The students are mostly underclassmen. We have students that were assigned to the Learning Commons for their resource, but also those who come in during their own time.”

Select students who use Nexus have seen an improvement in their grades. Leisure said, “I have seen several students who have had their grades go up but it’s up to students to take initiative and get help.”

Students can get assistance during resources, before school and after school. Now that instruction is virtual, there are tutors on Nexus during each period that are standing by to help students.

The tutors are all juniors and seniors with the exception of one sophomore. Leisure said the majority of the tutors are seniors, but that is not a requirement. For example, freshmen in classes higher than Algebra I are welcome to apply to be a tutor.

McCauley said, “I became a tutor because (Vice Principal) Mr. (Mark) Matthews emailed me and asked if I would be interested in becoming a tutor. I said yes, and then I filled out an application and had an interview. After that, I became a tutor.”

Sophomore Isabelle Tompkins said, “The Learning Commons has actually helped me a lot! It helped raise my grade the five times I’ve been. And it helped my understanding of the topic I’m working on. The tutors are extremely helpful and are patient with you all throughout you working and I highly recommend people checking it out.”

Leisure said if any students are interested in becoming tutors next school year they can email him or Matthews.

As students are at home, Leisure said he encourages students to get on Nexus, create an account and get any extra help they need. To create an account the username is the first part of the cathedral email (for example, absmith25). For the password click “forgot password” and students will receive an email to create a password for their account.