Pasadena Unified Students Benefit From District’s Use of ‘Paper’

“Our students are the most powerful people in our district,” said Helen Hill in an interview with staff from the online tutoring program called Paper. Hill is the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction & Professional Development for the Pasadena Unified School District.

The PUSD has been offering online tutoring on a 24/7 basis for students in grades 3-12, for free, since the summer of 2020 with Paper. (Other forms of tutoring that are not online have been available to all students.)

We all know how Covid-19 has altered our lives and in the field of education the topic of distance learning has taken center stage.

Throughout the pandemic, we have seen inequities in access to technology and when coupled with the differences in student learning styles, the pandemic has significantly altered the playing field.

Equity. This is one of the reasons the PUSD chose to work with Paper. I spoke with Hill, and she described the underpinnings that led her to choose Paper for PUSD students.

She told me that the tutors at Paper are “trained in the Socratic method” which is a back and forth dialogue between the teacher and the student that leads the student to the right answer.

“The student logs in to the platform and a tutor responds within 24 hours. Hill added that there “is a tutor in every subject.”

At the close of the tutoring session, the student should fully understand the material. A student can access Paper through a website, an app, or on the phone, and it’s globally accessible.

Hill chose to work with Paper for their foundational understanding that tutoring should be available to all. In other words, tutoring is not an extra gift to be bestowed on people who can afford it. Rather, it is a resource that can be accessible to all and ideally shaped to meet students where they are.

In other words, we can all benefit from a tutor, right?

In the PUSD since 2019, the Graduate Portfolio and Defense is required for each graduating senior and I can see why Paper’s Socratic method was appealing to Hill.

According to the website the Graduate Defense is “to prepare our graduates for an ever-changing world and a global economy.” Chief Academic Officer Dr. Elizabeth Blanco said that the “Graduate profile is our North Star.”

Knowledge is a priceless and infinite resource when we have the will to see students as the most powerful people in our world.


Pasadena Now has been published daily since April, 2004 and is among the very oldest continously operated community news websites in the U.S.

Pasadena Now strives to publish a full spectrum of news and information articles in service to the entire community. The publication will remain free to readers and will not erect paywalls.

Pasadena Now strives to provide factual, unbiased reporting. Our opinion section is open to all.