Tutor team: Local mom joins with university, developer to help kids

Photo by Colin Mixson Adults from left, Kubemas Tutoring Program founder Lugi Hernandez, Pace University director of school partnerships Patricia Kobetts, and Pace University professor Sharon Medow are surrounded by the precocious young scholars of the Kubemas Tutoring Program.

Photo by Colin Mixson
Adults from left, Kubemas Tutoring Program founder Lugi Hernandez, Pace University director of school partnerships Patricia Kobetts, and Pace University professor Sharon Medow are surrounded by the precocious young scholars of the Kubemas Tutoring Program.

BY COLIN MIXSON | 

A mom in the Financial District single-handedly forged an unlikely alliance between Pace University and development company Howard Hughes that has borne fruit in the form of a novel tutoring program, which provides 25 youngsters ages 8–12 with free, one-on-one tutoring.

The new program not only helps kids prepare for the dreaded Common Core exams, but also gives undergraduates at Pace an opportunity to test their teaching skills — and gain a few extra school credits on the side.

“It’s a very wonderful win-win situation for all of us,” said Sharon Medow, a professor at Pace University’s School of Education.

The Kubemas Tutoring Program is supported by Howard Hughes Corp., a real estate company best known for redeveloping the South Street Seaport district, which granted them free access to a second-floor space above the South Street Seaport Museum on Fulton Street, and Pace University sends its students to act as tutors, all thanks to Hernandez’s efforts.

“It really is Lugi and her team that make this all happen,” according to Phillip St. Pierre, general manager at Howard Hughes.

The result is a program providing one-on-one tutoring for two hours a day, four days a week, which is essential in helping kids — and parents — grapple with the state’s challenging new Common Core curriculum, according to Hernandez.

“Common core is something that threw everybody back a little,” said Hernadez, whose son Jaeven, 11, attends fifth grade at PS 397. “At the end of the day, the kids would come home to us parents, and we were trying to teach the children, and we didn’t get this ourselves.”

The tutors from Pace University enjoy the program perhaps as much as the kids. As much as they appreciate the opportunity to meet course requirements and hone their teaching abilities, many of the scholars pitching in at Kubemas have no stake in the program beyond making a difference in a child’s life.

“I just like the kids,” said Amanda Trajano, a business major, who’s served at the program for three semesters, and receives no school credit for her effort. “These kids are so nice, and you see how you make a difference in their eyes. I like them and I like coming here.”

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