Center for Community Engagement

Vela Scholars

Why Vela: 

Do you want to make a difference in Amherst community?  The Vela Scholars Program gives Amherst College students a chance to work with Amherst Regional Middle School students in need of additional support in mathematics, English language arts, and/or organizational skills.  Vela means to "rise and grow" in the African language, Xhosa (pronounced "hosa").  As suggested by this title, Amherst College tutors will have the opportunity to work one-on-one and in small groups to increase students’ academic outcomes, improve MCAS exam scores, and strengthen students’ connection to the school and local community. In addition, instructors will help coordinators implement individualized curriculum, monitor student progress, and recognize student achievements. 


Instructors commit to 1 or more days per week during the semester (Mon., Tues., and/or Th).  Instructors depart from campus at 2:15 pm and return by 4:30pm.  The program will run for 9 weeks and tutors must commit to attending ALL sessions.  12-15 instructors are needed per day. If, for some reason, an instructor is unable to attend a session, they MUST contact the student leader in charge of their day at least 24 hours in advance. See the Attendance Policy for more details.

How to join: 

If you are interested in joining Vela, we would love to have your help. Simply fill out the application, which can be found here, and we will get in touch with you.

If we haven't yet answered all of your questions, we are more than willing to do so. In either case, please contact the Community Engagement Leader (CEL) in charge of the program, Gillian Lupinski (  You can also view the rest of her contact information at the bottom of the page.

Getting Cleared to tutor:

In order to become an instructor , you must complete a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information – a background check). To do so, simply bring in a government issued photo-identification to the front office of the middle school at 170 Chestnut Street in Amherst and ask for a form from Sue Battistoni.

The front office is open Monday-Friday from 7:30am—4:00pm. This process can take 2-3 weeks, so the sooner you complete the process the better. 

Directions to the Middle School:

Walking/Driving directions to Amherst Regional Middle School from Amherst College (about 15 minutes):

Head North on Pleasant Street through the center of town.  Turn right onto Pray Street (after the Bank). Continue across Triangle Street onto Cottage Street. Turn right at the end of Cottage Street onto Chestnut Street. The middle school is on the left at the four-way intersection.

Contact Information:

If you have any questions at all, we would love to answer them for you. If you are a tutor, you should put this information in your phone, so that you can contact either of the CELs, in case of an emergency or simply if you ever need to get in touch with us.


CEL - Gillian Lupinski - Phone: (203) 451-1690, Email:


We are really excited about your interest in the Vela Program.  We hope to see you real soon!