As a longtime charter school student, 15-year-old Carlsbad, Calif., native Raj Pabari has grown accustomed to distance learning. But to help students who are struggling to keep up with their studies while sheltering at home, he has launched a new online tutoring service.
Tutors for Good, which Pabari created after the quarantine began in mid-March, offers a free peer-to-peer tutoring session every week to interested students in a range of disciplines. After that, if students need more help, half-hour sessions cost $15. Pabari’s goal is to recruit several more high school-age tutors in multiple subjects who are drawn to the concept of helping other students as they adjust to the new normal of home-based learning.
“The inspiration for it is to give back to the community,” said Pabari, who is a sophomore at Escondido-based Classical Academy High School. “It’s not great to charge people during this time when students are looking for some real help.”
Raj is the only child of Vipul and Sejal Pabari of Carlsbad. His father is a serial software entrepreneur and his mom works in operations at Classical Academy.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Pabari started his first business at age 10 when he began tutoring older adults in how to use their electronic devices. More recently, he has tutored fellow students in math and debate. When the schools closed and he could no longer do in-person tutoring, he came up with the idea for the online service. It uses the Zoom voice video meeting app and a whiteboard extension that tutor and student can both write on to work out equations and science formulas.
Finding workable solutions for problems is one of Pabari’s favorite hobbies. In 2018, he won the national first-place award in the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s InvestWrite competition for an essay recommending how the investment firm Berkshire Hathaway could more sustainably manage its short-term and long-term assets.
He has also devised numerous inventions for county and state science competitions, including a portable charger powered by running water, a cloud-based solution to compactly archive digital data using synthetic DNA, an educational product that provides access to online resources without the Internet and a connectivity sensor that sends emails when it detects a water leak. He has competed successfully at the state and national levels in debate competitions, placed in the top 5% nationwide in the American Mathematics Competition and has won numerous computer, engineering and science awards and scholarships.
Since launching tutorsforgood.com a few weeks ago, Pabari has recruited another Classical Academy student to serve as a tutor. Lillie Eckstein, a junior, is offering tutoring in middle school, high school and Advanced Placement biology and middle and high school chemistry. Pabari tutors in debate policy and Lincoln-Douglas debate prep, as well as middle school, high school and SAT/ACT-prep math.
So far, they’ve attracted only a half-dozen fellow Classical Academy students for lessons but are hoping to widen the net this spring to reach other students at schools throughout San Diego County.
Beside looking for other tutors, Pabari said he’s hoping to find sponsoring companies who would be willing to pay the tutors to provide more free services to needy students. And he hopes the business can carry on even after the quarantine ends.
“The biggest thing that I’m hearing from the students I’m tutoring is they’re missing the social aspects of being at school. It’s difficult to not see your friends,” Pabari said. “Tutoring over Zoom is not quite the same, but it is like socializing over Zoom.”