FORT WORTH, Texas–Prahaladh Gopalakrishnan is always looking for ways to make a positive impact. The ILTexas Keller K-8 eighth grade student spent his summer thinking of ways he could do just that. 

“One day, I was thinking about what I can do to help other students and to have an "it" statement to my college application,” he said. “I'm like, ‘I want to help students . . . let's start a tutoring group.’”

Gopalakrishnan approached Keller K-8 Principal Jared Laginess at the beginning of the school year to pitch his idea which was eventually given the greenlight.  

“I remember the first couple of weeks we had, he gave out flyers and talked to all the students,” said Laginess. “During the first meeting of those kids who were interested, about 80 kids showed up so we were pretty impressed by that.”

Currently, around 40 eighth grade students volunteer their time after school Monday through Thursdays to tutor 3rd to 5th grade students. 

“I have seen a lot of students struggling in their math and reading,” Gopalakrishnan said. “Since that is one of the main things that you are tested on in the STAAR tests, my long-term goal is to make sure that we can eradicate that.” 

Gopalakrishnan stated that he and his fellow tutors make sure they tutor in a way younger students can relate to.

“My tutoring thing is not where we're teaching them new stuff,” he said. “It's where we're reiterating the knowledge that the teacher gave them.”

Jim Faber, a fourth grade math teacher at Keller K-8, highlighted Gopalakrishnan’s influence at the school. 

“Prahaladh is the student all teachers want,” he said. “The type of student that always has a positive attitude.” Faber added that Gopalakrishnan has “a great influence on his peers and he's just been everything that we would expect or want out of a student here at our school.”

Despite his academic success and positive reviews from peers and teachers, Gopalakrishnan stated he wasn’t always a good student. 

“I was a behavioral bad kid,” he said. “I used to be mean to teachers [and] students. I was the bully in third grade.”

Since then, Gopalakrishnan has been able to improve his past behaviors while learning how to be a positive influence on others in the process. 

“It's been drilled into me that I can be a better person,” he said. “I used to be that student, but now I'm this student and that's amazing for me.”

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