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Black & White Photo Of Castle High School In Kaneohe, HI

UH engineering students to provide tutoring and mentorship to Castle High School

The UH Mānoa College of Engineering is launching a new intensive tutoring program in partnership with James B. Castle High School in Kāne‘ohe to create a bridge between high school and college students, allowing high-performing undergraduates to connect with and mentor high schoolers needing extra assistance in math and science classes on a nearly peer-to-peer level.

Project overview

Portraits of three studentsThe UH College of Engineering x Castle High School: Intensive STEM Tutoring Program, a pilot project made possible by a $26,912 Harold K.L. Castle Foundation grant, will employ a select group of outstanding engineering students from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s College of Engineering to provide one-to-one tutoring sessions via Zoom to high school students from Castle High School in STEM subjects including algebra, trigonometry, pre-calculus, physics, chemistry, and more. The College will leverage its Engineering Student Ambassadors, a group of top-performing engineering students who are trained to provide outreach to our local schools and mentor/advise fellow students, as well as students from its student engineering organizations and other qualified individuals, to provide tutoring and mentorship. Through resources available via UH’s Online Learning Academy (OLA) Program, tutors will be trained in building relationships with students and in teaching relevant content in a way that is accessible.

The College is currently in the process of hiring a target group of ten student tutors to begin immediate training to be ready to work with students this spring and summer. The pilot program will run through September 30, 2021, and after that date, program administrators will seek to extend the program by securing additional outside funding and possibly expanding its reach in the future by bringing in additional educational partners.

Goals and projected outcomes

“We will be very intentional in establishing this program as a special opportunity afforded to Castle students,” said Kim Perez Hults, program supervisor and Director of Marketing and Outreach Relations for the College. “Our tutors will be introduced as ‘engineering mentors.’ In addition to providing traditional tutoring on individual classes, some sessions may also be reserved for working with students in a true mentorship capacity on academic challenges. Castle teachers have identified a need for mentorship with areas such as: guiding students with STEM-related projects and brainstorming concepts for science fairs, providing students with feedback on STEM projects and presentations, and offering special sessions including teacher-requested content reviews.” 

Over the course of the 7-month program, organizers project they will be able to serve over 150 students and deliver over 1,500 hours of intensive STEM tutoring. Additionally, they aim to demonstrate a measurable improvement in participants’ understanding and comprehension of target subjects and concepts, as evidenced by pre-and post-tutoring surveys administered to tutees and/or their teachers and tutors, and provide relevant, meaningful employment to participating undergraduate engineering students, empowering them as mentors to their younger counterparts and providing them with a rewarding experience as evidenced through their post-program survey feedback.

Partners in education

Color photo of James B. Castle High School signCastle High School and the College of Engineering are no strangers to collaboration – the two institutions have in fact worked closely together over the years, including as partners in the current Hawai‘i Engineering Sector Partnership involving K-12, college, and industry partners as well as the Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i. This program will serve to build on those efforts and bolster student learning in science and math to prepare them for college and the workforce.

 “Our goal is to ensure that students are prepared for the academic rigor of any postsecondary program in the field of STEM,” said Castle High School Principal Bernadette Tyrell. “This summer, Castle engineering students will receive support from a mentor. Successful completion of higher-level math requirements will help students better align with UH Mānoa College of Engineering certification and degrees.”

Engineering Dean Brennon Morioka is appreciative of the unique opportunity to develop such a program and has high hopes for the program. “We are extremely grateful to the Castle Foundation for having the confidence in the College of Engineering in providing mentorship to our Castle High School community,” said Morioka. “And this is a great way for our own students to learn and understand their own responsibility as engineers and as leaders of the importance of not only being a part of a greater community but also lead in Hawaii’s efforts.”


About the UH Mānoa College of Engineering: 

The College of Engineering at the University of Hawaiʻi is dedicated to world-class education and research. We produce the entrepreneurial and innovative human and intellectual capital required to be competitive in an increasingly technological and global society. Through our graduates and our research, we provide people and discoveries to transform lives and to support vibrant, knowledge-based economies. We are inspired by the principles of sustainability and resilience, flavored by our unique island environment.

About James B. Castle High School:

With a student body of 1,181, James B. Castle High School serves a socio-economically diverse community from suburban Kaneohe to rural Kualoa. The high school is the largest of four in the Windward District. The Castle Complex consists of Castle High School, King Intermediate School and eight elementary feeder schools (Kaneohe, Puohala, Kapunahala, Benjamin Parker, Heeia, Ahuimanu, Kahaluu and Waiahole). After 56 years, the Knight Pride of Castle is deeply ingrained in longtime Kaneohe residents. Clearly, Castle High School has a way of “keeping its people,” as many alumni have returned here to teach, work, or volunteer.

About the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation: 

Founded in 1962, the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation works to build resources for Hawaii’s future. We do so by investing in promising initiatives and organizations through grantmaking, using our convening power, and introducing and spreading new ideas and approaches to help solve some of Hawaii’s most pressing problems.

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