Nichols Hosts 19th Annual NEPTA Conference

Each year, since 1994, peer tutors gather to provide each other insights, encouragement and innovation for the promotion of better tutoring practices. The New England Peer Tutor Association, also known as NEPTA, annually sponsors an event allowing tutors to engage with each other and build their skillset. This conference is the only one of its kind – created for tutors by tutors. For the first time in almost a decade, Nichols had the opportunity to host this conference. This created an internship for one of Nichols top seniors, Crystal Dennison. Beginning in December, she dedicated herself, under the guidance of Academic Resource Center Director, Marissa Loon, to the planning and execution of this event.

Dennison, a graduating English major, has been a peer tutor at the Academic Resource Center, since her sophomore year. This year, as a senior, Dennison was selected as head tutor at the ARC – a position one qualifies for through their dedication and devotion to the center. In addition to her success as a peer tutor, Dennison has excelled in her academic endeavors and has been recognized on campus for her strong work ethic through scholarships and academic honors. Dennison exemplifies what it means to be a student leader and proved this even further through by ensuring that 2013’s NEPTA conference was a success.

Leading up to the conference, Dennison set aside time daily for planning and preparation. During this time, she completed tasks such as setting a theme for the event, assisting with any questions, handling paperwork, creating materials need for the day of, organizing and involving other peer tutors and keynote speakers and finalizing cosmetic and dining details. Throughout the semester, Dennison attended several meetings with Marissa Loon and Nichols’ Event and Conference Manager, Justin Dolan. In regards to Dolan, Dennison remarks, “He made it happen for me. Anything I needed, he had.”

On the day of the event, Saturday April 6th, 260 attendees (about 230 tutors and 30 administrators) from 28 institutions throughout New England, entered the Athletic Center to find a lobby masked with Clue themed decorations and registration set up. Once registered, attendees proceeded into the dining area to indulge in breakfast pastries, coffees, teas and juices. Following breakfast, the NEPTA Conference was kicked off with a welcome from Loon and an introduction from Dennison,  followed by keynote speeches from Nichols’ President Susan Engelkemeyer and William Boffi, Associate Dean of Student Success and Retention. Following the speeches, Dennison introduced the day, and attendees broke out into four 50-minute blocks of strategy-focused sessions.

Sessions included a compilation of presentation, hands on activity and discussion. In these sessions, a preselected group of peer tutors presented to an audience of peer tutors regarding tactical ways to deal with recurring themes or conflicts seen in their tutoring sessions. The conference format allows for participants to both gain the insights of others and share their insight. While some presentations focused on motivating tutees others took a more original approach and demonstrated the benefits of meditation through tutoring sessions. Overall, all presentations were extremely innovative.

Through the dedication and efforts of Dennison, Loon and Dolan, the 2013 NEPTA Conference was not only successful, but also beneficial for all attendees.