After graduating from Santa Monica High School two years ago, Daniel Chenevert enrolled at Yale University and began pursuing his undergraduate degree.
When he realized that he wanted more time to think about his future and explore other possible options, he took an indefinite leave from college and returned home.
And as he began reflecting on his next move, he figured he’d at least earn some money by sharing his academic skills with others.
“It wasn’t like I came back specifically to tutor,” he said. “But it’s a job I enjoy doing. It’s kind of like, ‘Why not?’”
Chenevert is among a crop of Samohi alumni who have found work as tutors in and around Santa Monica, and many of them work with clients who attend schools in the district they once called their own.
Tutors said they enjoy being able to offer their expertise to children in a community with which they are intimately familiar.
Lisa Lenes, who has been tutoring for more than 25 years, works nearly full-time in one-on-one settings and assists elementary school students primarily in Spanish, language arts and math.
Lenes said the biggest challenge of tutoring is keeping students focused after long days at school, but her work is validated by their positive growth and high grades.
It’s a particularly fulfilling profession for Lenes, who has been in Santa Monica since she was 5 years old. She attended Roosevelt Elementary School starting in kindergarten and graduated from the local school system, finishing Samohi in 1975 before pursuing higher education at Cal State Northridge and beyond.
“My experience in the high school was a great one for me,” said Lenes, who was a member of the Delians Honor Society.
Lenes remains connected to Samohi as her graduating class reporter for Viking News, the high school’s alumni newsletter.
Greta Jacobsen, a Samohi alumna who later attended Harvard University and the University of Oxford, recently finished medical school at the University of Edinburgh and returned to Southern California for the fall.
“I love teaching and helping students to master essential concepts and achieve their academic potential,” she said.
Chenevert, the Yale student, works mostly as a math tutor but also helps students in Latin, physics and chemistry.
He said it can be a challenge to get students to solve problems without assistance.
“They’ll tempt you to work through stuff for them,” he said. “So it’s really about motivating them and getting them to be able to develop the skill on their own.”
Chenevert, who was a trumpet player and peer tutor in high school, said Samohi prepared him for college and called his time there “a positive experience.” He currently has about half a dozen clients, some of which he acquired by sending out an email to a local parent listserv. Word of mouth led other families to seek out his services.
“It’s familiar because I was in those classes,” he said. “It’s a pretty comfortable position to be in. I feel confident doing it.”