Local seniors helping tutor students during the pandemic with help of new app, technology

Posted at 9:00 AM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 20:44:14-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Earlier this year, seniors at Westminster Canterbury at Chesapeake Bay used a new tablet program to stay connected with loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I can't be with my own grandkids right now. They all live in different areas, so I have taken him as a surrogate," said Dr. Rosemary Hughes.

Hughes, a resident at Westminster Canterbury, is now using an app called Birdsong for a different purpose - and that is to tutor a fourth-grader in Chesapeake who is originally from Kenya.

"He is so fun, so delightful to work with. I am working with him mainly in math and language arts," she said.

Three days a week, she and her student log on for 30 minutes.

"He is very internet-savvy. He pulls up things on the tablet he is using and shows them on camera so I can see what he is doing," Hughes explained.

A lifelong educator, Hughes says it’s a win-win. She can give back and stay engaged while helping students with their virtual learning.

"It gives me an outlet for my energy," said Hughes.

The Birdsong app was developed locally - a partnership with Westminster Canterbury, EVMS and Virginia Wesleyan University.

"It is something new. [It's a] little bit challenging, but it's a one-on-one relationship with lots of benefits," said Hughes.

The app was originally was used by seniors to help students of staff at the retirement community, but now more than two dozen have signed on.

"There is a joy of helping understand a concept, learning something new and reinforcing something in school," said Hughes.

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