A talented teen

June 12, 2017
At just 16, Mitchell created a peer tutoring program at the RMHC Toronto School.
Mitchell Vendrov beside the RMHC Toronto sign
Mitchell Vendrov is a busy guy. On top of his grade 12 studies, he plays piano, is on the debate team, serves on student council, volunteers at his local hospital and dabbles in poetry writing. Even with all of these extracurriculars, Mitchell still found time to single-handedly develop a peer-tutoring program at the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto School. How’s that for impressive?

The tutoring program began in 2015 when Mitchell’s grade 10 Civics class at Newmarket High School was challenged to “go out into the big, wide world and make a difference.” Mitchell had recently tutored his cousin while he was in the hospital, so he saw an opportunity.

“I realized there were other students, like my cousin, missing school due to illness, and school is hard enough as it is without these added complications,” says Mitchell. “Knowing the population served by the RMHC Toronto School, I thought my idea could be a good fit.”

Working with the School’s staff, Mitchell began hosting seminars every Friday via Skype for students in Grades 4 to 12. Reflecting the wide range of ages, he facilitated interactive sessions on a variety of topics.

“Some weeks I would supplement what the students were learning in the curriculum, like geometry, or else I would focus on a topic purely of their interest. I even did a boots-on-the-ground tour of the rainforest when I was on vacation with my family in Hawaii.”

A student on Skype with Mitchell

The program was an instant success and Mitchell continued it through the first semester of the 2016-2017 school year. Ever the high achiever, he had an expansion plan for semester two. Mitchell recruited four of his peers and now every Friday they meet one-on-one with RMHC Toronto students to discuss topics of their personal interest.

“Students ask about things they’re having trouble with, or they learn about everything from how to become a chef to the 25 deadliest animals,” says Katie Doering, Principal and teacher at the School. “It’s been so successful that the kids never want to miss a Friday. Since their classmates are always coming and going, I think it’s a comfort to have a consistent presence during a trying time.”

A student on Skype with a tutor

The program has been equally rewarding for Mitchell and his fellow tutors.

“It’s really heartwarming for me to see their smiles,” says Mitchell. “I love their questions and their optimism and their enthusiasm for learning.”

Mitchell’s experience at RMHC Toronto has helped shape his future, influencing him to pursue a career in medicine. He was recently accepted to an accelerated medical program at Queen’s University. He is one of only 10 students accepted to the program this year.

“It’s been so impactful meeting patients and their siblings at the School, and someday I want to help children like them medically, not just academically.”

When he begins his studies in Kingston next fall, Mitchell plans to maintain a facilitating role in the tutoring program and pop in for a guest Skype call every now and then. Whatever his involvement looks like, he has reason to be proud of what he’s accomplished at RMHC Toronto.

“Mitchell is an incredible human being,” says Katie. “He didn’t just create this program for his resume – you can feel his genuine passion for helping other people. Mitchell sees himself as a mentor, but also knows there is lots he can learn from the students. That’s such a great quality in a person, and we’re so grateful for all he’s done.”