17-year-old Emme Shaffer Founds Tutor Together to Promote Equal Education Opportunity

Come into the class-zoom.

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  • Photographed by
    Tameka Jacobs

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    The Tutor Together faculty: Miranda Wise, Hannah Lascher, Olivia Pelenghian,
    Emme Shaffer, Zoe Stevens, Izzy Werdesheim, Sophia Norouzi and Ellie Glosman.

As a kid with two successful parents (dad Alan is a personal injury attorney; mom Tracy owns a celebrity engagement/procurement agency), Emme Shaffer realized she had advantages. The teen, who attends The Buckley School, also realized that when it came to academics, those advantages could be considered unfair.

“I’ve always been aware that if I was struggling in math, I could easily call my tutor. There are students who can’t do that, and it’s not fair. We should have equal educational opportunities for all students that aren’t inhibited by socioeconomic status,” Emme explains.

She’d always wanted to do something but couldn’t quite put her finger on it—until the pandemic hit.

“Our housekeeper mentioned that her son was struggling with his online studies. It wasn’t easy for him even before social distancing, and now it was even more difficult. I thought, why not start a free tutoring service and just do it online?”

She worked through her spring break to build a website and launch Tutor Together (tutor-together.com), which offers free services for K–8 students who don’t have the means or access to tutoring.

She rallied her gal pals to help tutor; most are fellow students at Buckley. Thus far, 100 students have registered—one from as far away as Atlanta. All the student needs to participate is access to a computer or smartphone for the Zoom call.

“It’s not just the kids who we are helping; it’s the parents, too. They are so grateful. It frees them up to do what they need to do during their day,” says Buckley student and tutor Zoe Stevens.

As she heads into her senior year, Emme is thinking that someday she’d like to be a human rights attorney. “I want to use the privilege that I’ve been given to help people who don’t have the ability to stand up for themselves. Tutor Together is just my first step.”