Updated: July 27, 2020 10:58 AM
Created: July 26, 2020 10:28 PM
Tanisha Kota is a very busy 15-year-old.
"I do debate, I do speech, I'm on the figure skating team,” she says. “I volunteer at the hospital, which is fun. I play piano, I play the flute.”
But this rising 11th-grader at Eastview High School is also spending a lot of time on her laptop these days.
“I've created a tutoring business to help students through the summer, and it's free,” she said. “We tutor math and English. The goal is to make students like learning.”
In late June, Tanisha created Genius Prep, an online tutoring service. The idea is simple: recruit high school students to tutor younger students, from kindergartners to eighth graders.
“So I spent the weekend building the website,” Tanisha said. “I got a couple of tutors, including my brother. It was like four tutors and I put it on the internet, and I just started from there.”
“She herself was saying that this is quarantine time, everybody is at home,” adds Tanisha’s mother, Jaya. “She thought she wants to put something useful for the community, and she wants to help the kids. That’s her goal.”
Tanisha launched the site in 24 hours using $150 she saved from tutoring students at a private learning center.
"We have an assignment page, and it leads to a Google forum,” she explains. “It's just basic information, like your name, your phone number, and then the students, if they want to be tutored in math, English, or both."
Tanisha vets the tutors herself; some are classmates from Eastview High. She then coordinates the tutors with the younger students, after getting the OK from parents.
“I just like, text the tutors, see what time they're available, and just match them,” Tanisha says. “It’s more of a manual process on my side, then I send an email out to the parents."
Information about the site has spread through word of mouth.
It’s gotten 958 visits, Tanisha says.
"So I think it's really cool how she's making the best of a bad situation,” said Silvie Reitz, an Eastview classmate, who’s now tutoring. “I think it's really amazing how Tanisha's connected tutors from all around the country. Like we're not just tutoring kids who are in Minnesota, we're tutoring kids who are in like other states and stuff.”
Tanisha says so far, 37 tutors are signed up, and they’re using video conferencing to teach 87 students.
“I hope to continue it. I hope to actually reach international, because there’s a lot more kids who need this education,” Tanisha said. “If I can gain traction in Minnesota, maybe some international organization will see me, and they’ll be able to partner with me and help more students abroad.”
“Of course, of course we are proud of her,” Jaya Kota smiles. “She wants to spread her wings all around the world. Hopefully we find out, and she’ll go there.”
Meanwhile, Tanisha says she hopes what she’s doing will inspire other young people to learn — even during a pandemic.
“Just to help people, to make learning fun,” she says. “With an education you can do so much in life, and if we start young and have them learning they can continue doing it for the rest of their life."
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