English Resource Center now open with new director

Junior Katie Liu receives help in the English Resource Center from ERC director Neal Tomich. (Photo by Emma McGee)

The English Resource Center reopened for the first time this school year at the beginning of the second semester, offering both virtual and in-person options with former library aide Neal Tomich as the new director.

Tomich said the ERC will be open to students before school from 8:00 a.m to 8:30 a.m, during all seven periods and during the second half of lunch. He added that there will be junior and senior tutors in the ERC during these times to help students.

Students can come to the ERC to receive help with essay editing, proofreading or anything else English-related, Tomich said.

Senior Sam Adler, who will be an ERC tutor for a second year, added that the ERC can also help students with the essay planning and the writing process, not just proofreading.

Tomich said access to the ERC will be based on students scheduling appointments rather than just walking in. Students can go to the ERC’s Canvas page and book an appointment on the calendar, with the choice of either a Zoom appointment or an in-person session, he explained.

He added that students should share what they want to work on over Google Drive prior to their appointment in the ERC.

“This will be a work in progress,” Tomich said. “We will see what works and what doesn’t, and we will go with what works and change what doesn’t.”

The ERC originally closed at the beginning of the school year following the resignation of the previous director Rikki Santer, and it was difficult to fill the position due to COVID-19, Tomich explained. He said he started off this school year working in the middle school library because the pandemic made it necessary for staffing to be rearranged, but he applied for the position once it opened.

Tomich said he previously taught English at the high school for all four grades, and he worked in the high school library for eight years. He applied to work as the director of the ERC because he felt his qualifications lined up with those of the job.

Tomich didn’t get the position until late in the first semester, he said, and with the high school being in remote learning at the time, he decided to wait to reopen the ERC until early second semester.

“If it were a normal school year, I could’ve stepped right in from day one and had things going, but with the unique school year, it has taken a while to figure things out,” he explained.

Despite the abnormal school year, Tomich said he remains hopeful about the ERC reopening with him as the director.

“I’m really nervous, but I’m also really excited because it is something new, and I am confident that we can make it a success,” Tomich said.

Adler explained that his favorite part of volunteering in the ERC is helping students with their essay writing.

“It’s nice to help the students who come in with polishing their paper and helping them figure out what to write,” Adler said.

Tomich explained that while office hours are very important, the ERC can offer a different, more specific type of assistance to students.

“Your English teacher is probably dealing with over 100 students, and it may be difficult at times for them to give you the targeted assistance that you may need on certain aspects of your writing or reading,” he said.

Adler explained that students can benefit from coming to the ERC because it will give them a fresh set of eyes on their papers.

“Having that outside perspective will be beneficial to crafting an effective argument because it is easy to make an argument to yourself but then making it to someone else is more difficult,” he said.

Tomich said that his main goal as the ERC director is to help the students strengthen their reading and writing skills and grow as English students.

“I want the students to grow and feel more confident, and I want them to keep having success in whatever they are reading or writing,” he said.