Jesse Pirini – Director, Head Tutor
Jesse is a PhD Candidate at AUT in Auckland, although he grew up in Wellington and still spends a lot of time there. His research focuses on agency, or how much choice people express over what they do. While he works with people with heart disease in his research, many of his findings are relevant for students – and why they do what they do. These ideas work their way into the initial and advanced tutor training, along with a healthy balance of pedagogical theory, psychological theory and good solid training techniques. Jesse has also worked in business training, science commericalisation and university student support.
Olivia Park – Service Manager
Olivia Park is the Service Manager, she keeps everyone on the same page and helps match tutors to students. Olivia is a very energetic person, and also works in the publishing and fitness industries. This means she also edits all of our publications, and makes sure we are all keeping fit.
Kate Henderson – Enquiries Manager
Kate is in charge of making sure all your enquiries are answered promptly, and accurately. She’s also in her final year of a Masters in Osteopathy, and tutors biology for Pencilcase. Previously Kate’s worked with children with learning difficulties through the DORE programme.
Academic advisory panel
Our advisory panel is made up of teachers who advise on curriculum developments which are relevant for tutors. These include maths, english and science teachers, and this means our tutors can always access the most up to date information about school curricula.
Our tutoring philosophy
Pencilcase was started in 2010 by Jesse Pirini to bring a new approach to tutoring. Traditional tutoring focusses on course content, assuming that students can’t do well in a subject because they don’t know the right answers. This is part of the problem, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. A big reason students struggle is because they don’t understand what is required, they don’t know how to manage their time, they don’t know how to approach a tricky problem, or they don’t know how to order their ideas and so on.
Since there is more to learning than knowing the answers, we focus on how students are approaching their study. This is very different from not being able to understand algebra, or analyse a text, or describe meiosis.
A tutor that only helps a student understand the topic is missing the opportunity to help them develop ways of tackling problems in the future. It’s also likely that the tutor is missing the root of the issue – is the student doing enough work? Does the student care? Does the student have the base knowledge required? These are all issues that Pencilcase tutors set out to tackle, while maintaining strong content knowledge. This two-pronged approach sets Pencilcase tutors apart from other tutoring organisations.
It’s not easy to help people examine their approach to school work. It takes honesty, trust, subtlety and empathy. Tutors need to be able to challenge students, and also support them. They need to hold students accountable, while helping them learn about themselves. This often doesn’t come naturally to people, but there are a range of useful techniques and approaches that tutors can add to their toolkit.
Pencilcase tutors attend an initial training, where they develop their tutoring skills with the Pencilcase approach. Once tutors start tutoring they attend ongoing advanced tutor training modules. These modules build on specific aspects of tutoring, and go into more depth. Tutors continue to develop and learn from their experience, guaranteeing that you receive top quality tutoring, and also that tutors are modelling the very skills that they are helping students with.