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Chelsea District Library Introduces New, Free Online Tutoring System

The service is computer-based and provides a variety of homework support, from live tutoring to skills building exercises and essay review.

Chelsea Standard

by Nichole Seguin

CHELSEA — The Chelsea District Library has created a free online tutoring system to help students with their homework.

Students can use their school-issued iPads or personal computers to access HelpNow, from

The service is computer-based and provides a variety of homework support, from live tutoring to skills building exercises and essay review.

To use the service, families need to have a CDL library card. They’ll also need to setup an account.

Karen, Persello, head of Youth and Teen Services, for the library said the library made the decision after consulting with Chelsea School District officials and parents.

HelpNow’s live tutors are available to chat via keyboard with students in grades K-12 from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Students can get help in English, math, science and social studies for elementary students, and, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics, English and social studies for middle and high school students. SAT, ACT and GED test prep is also available.

Students can go to the Chelsea District Library’s home page at, click on HelpNow, and receive the live support needed to work through the problem.

Students who need more regular support can work with a tutor as well as access HelpNow’s Skills Building service.

With Skills Building, tutors help students in grades 3-12 master core academic skills through state-aligned lessons.

Edith Donnell, a youth librarian at Chelsea, said she can’t wait for parents to discover Skills Building.

“We see students come to the library every day to work with in-person tutors in study rooms, but not every family can afford a personal tutor,” she said. “Skills Building offers families the chance to get their children the tutoring they need, either at the library or at home. These are live, one-on-one lessons from tutors, not just an automated study resource.”

Another great resource HelpNow provides is a 24-hour Writing Lab. Students submit their writing through the secure file-sharing system and within 24 hours, writing specialists evaluate it according to a customized rubric. Rubric categories include: response to task, organization, focus, word usage, and grammar. Students can also talk to a live Writing Instructor to receive immediate feedback or have live one-on-one writing lessons.

Parents concerned about who might be chatting with their students online can rest easy.

“One of the first things we asked Brainfuse was how they vetted their tutors and oversaw the sessions,” said Ron Andrews, Technology Librarian. “HelpNow tutors undergo background and reference checks, multiple screening interviews and skills testing. They even require a postgraduate degree, so students are always talking to someone with six years of higher education.”

Preference is given to certified teachers and individuals with prior tutoring experience.

Brainfuse monitors sessions for evaluation purposes, reviews archived session transcripts and maintains regular contact with all tutors.

For parents and students interested in learning more about how to use this powerful resource, a library session, Introduction to Brainfuse Online Homework Help is being offered at the library Oct. 29, 7-8 p.m. in the McKune Room.

To register for this program, call 734-475-8732, or go online at and click on the “calendar” tab.