It’s 7pm, and a swarm of company members surround APTP academic tutor, Brett Schneider. Questions bounce back and forth, covering everything from organic chemistry to U.S. History, and APTPians respond as though they are eager contestants on a game show.
Brett has provided academic support to APTP teens since 2010, making education and learning fun and empowering for ensemble members. Using everything from mnemonic devices and formulas to magic tricks, daily riddles, and gold-star stickers, Brett provides the tools and support to motivate APTPians to boost their grades in school and improve their scores on the ACT college admissions exam.
Brett is at APTP two nights a week for drop-in tutoring. Need additional support? Text Brett and arrange unlimited one-on-one tutoring whenever it’s convenient. Getting ready for college applications? Brett’s 8-week summer ACT prep course is the place to be. Every APTP ensemble member has access to all these services at no charge, thanks to the generosity of APTP donors.
“The most striking and inspiring thing I witness each year,” Brett observes, “is the confidence that the ensemble members find in themselves and their abilities as they work to overcome their academic obstacles. No matter how impossible their work may seem today, they are actually capable of mastering it, if they give it some time and ask for help.”
Thanks to Brett’s tutoring and the other support APTP provides ensemble members, more than half of the company ended the 2013-2014 school year with all A’s and B’s, and they collectively achieved the highest GPA in company history—all while rehearsing and performing God’s Work at the Goodman Theatre.
"The desire to improve and the determination to work at something until you succeed is something I can't teach. That's all them."
“It’s really all in the hands of the extraordinary ensemble members,” Brett explains. “They’re the ones who have to come to me and ask for help in the first place, which is a very difficult thing to do. And they’re the ones who have to spend time working on something they’re not comfortable with until it eventually becomes easier. The desire to improve and the determination to work at something until you succeed is something I can’t teach. That’s all them.”
The tutoring program also helps APTPians prepare for the challenges and changes that come with college. Stephany Perez, APTP Class of 2013, spent much of her summer after high school graduation meeting with Brett to study chemistry in preparation for her first semester at Kalamazoo College. Stephany reports that the study sessions prepared her to take ownership and initiative in her continued education: “I know what kind of material will give me trouble, how I can best study, and, if I do end up with questions, how to communicate them to my professors.”
Beyond the textbooks and study sessions, the emotional support that comes from the APTP community provides an equally significant impact that alumni carry with them. “Sometimes, when I’m really stuck,” Stephany shares, “I think about Brett and APTP and how much they believe in me and how supportive they are of me. I am able to become unstuck just thinking about my community that is willing to help me whenever I need it. Because of that I feel encouraged to seek out a community here on campus.”
Tutoring is one of the components of APTP’s holistic youth development program. The goal: to provide every APTP ensemble member with the tools and resources to graduate high school, to earn admission and financial aid at a college that is a good match, and to graduate from college.