Tazim Merchant is singlehandedly transforming the landscape of tutoring for both tutors and those in need of tutoring. Merchant, a senior at the high school, created the National Honor Society Tutoring Program, which matches high school tutors with middle school and high school students in need of tutoring, for free.

Using a simple online form, National Honor Society members can register to tutor subjects in which they excel, and any student can submit a request to be tutored in just about any subject area. Merchant saw the need for an alternative to the practice of hiring costly tutors and knew that members of the NHS needed to earn community service credits, so she developed the program to help fill both voids. She created the forms and organized the participants on her own.

“It is very successful so far,” Merchant said. “In just the first week, we had requests almost every day through our NHS Tutor Request Form, and both the tutors and their students have been happy with the results.” She said she is using the project to achieve her Girl Scouts Gold Award and hopes to present her idea to the NHS at the national level. “I would like to place this model in schools all over the country,” she said. She aspires to run the national model as a volunteer.

In visiting middle school and high school classrooms to present the program, Merchant has found the students and teachers very receptive. She said teachers are encouraging their students to use the program and students are grateful for the help, whether it is for one test or an entire unit of study.

The society’s advisors said the program is doing more than just providing academic support. “Students feel comfortable to come and ask for help from others, knowing it won't cost them anything,” explained co-advisor Valerie Russo. “It also helps students form great bonds while making new friendships, and it helps build their confidence.” Co-advisor Rachel McShane said Merchant is an incredible leader who took this project from an idea to reality without skipping a beat.

Locust Valley High School Assistant Principal Rebecca Gottesman calls the model for this program outstanding. “It would be a wonderful program to extend into the elementary schools,” she said. “It benefits all students involved on so many levels.” She looks forward to assisting Merchant and the advisors in transitioning the program to future NHS officers, ensuring that it expands next year when Merchant is no longer available to facilitate the day-to-day operations.  

Although Merchant will graduate in June, she will hand over the reins to the club’s officers so her work can continue to benefit generations of students to follow. “When I visit the middle school classes,” she said, “I tell them that they may be in need of a tutor now, but one day they may be running this program.”