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Meet Mackenzie Bystrek, Engineering Scholarship Winner

Mackenzie Bystrek started private ACT math instruction at Andover Tutoring Scene in the Spring of 2022. Originally, her goal was just to boost her math score, so it would better match her strong reading and English scores. The tutoring was a success, and Mackenzie achieved the score she wanted---she even received an academic scholarship! Kyle Shook, ATS's owner, was so impressed by her performance that he offered her a tutoring position with younger students. Today, she continues to flourish as both a student and teacher. We sat down with Mackenzie to discuss the secret of her success and how it has affected her aspirations to enter the innovative field of aerospace engineering.

What made you decide to pursue a major in engineering?

I always liked building and creating things since I was little, and I've always loved learning about outer space. Studying astronautics and aerospace engineering was a great combination of the two areas. It would be a dream come true to work at NASA, but I would also be extremely happy to get an aerospace engineering job here in the Midwest, so I can stay close to family.

You used to prefer humanities subjects, such as English, to mathematics. What caused you to change your view on STEM enough to become an engineering major?

I love the humanities, and I want to make sure I continue to enjoy those subjects. I feel making a career out of my hobbies would potentially ruin them. A STEM career is still exciting and requires a lot of creativity, just in a different way than a degree in art history would. Getting a better score on my math ACT certainly helped with my decision.

How has going from a student at ATS to a tutor affected your teaching approach? I actually used to tutor a little when I was younger, but I was weaker at articulating my thoughts to the students. After being tutored by Kyle [Shook], I've learned to become more flexible and able to better understand how a student may approach an issue. I can now tailor my teaching accordingly. I've really improved in my communication skills with students.

What do you think is a key factor in getting students engaged in mathematics?

A big factor is making it fun. I always hated math when I was younger, because the classes were always so dry and impersonal. The way to teach math is the same with any subject: gamify it! Teachers should also cater the subject to topics that the student likes. For example, I have a student right now who loves spooky stuff and Halloween, and one of her favorite candies is gummy eyeballs. During our math lessons, I make word problems using gummy eyeballs as the unit of measurement, and she has a ton of fun!

At Andover Tutoring Scene, we believe it is essential for our tutors to make connections with our students through gamification and crafting lessons with students' interests in mind. We have twenty-two amazing tutors, each with their unique story. Meet our tutors below!

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