The Old Boar brings old world inspiration to island students

Owner Kirsten Foster poses with an antique Royal typewriter in the Old Boar.  - Julia Thomas / Bainbridge Island Review
Owner Kirsten Foster poses with an antique Royal typewriter in the Old Boar.
— image credit: Julia Thomas / Bainbridge Island Review

This isn’t your grandfather’s study hall.

Bainbridge Island students have a new option for study and collaboration. Nestled on the corner of Madison and Winslow Way, the recently opened Old Boar Study Hall occupies a cozy space easily identified by the chestnut wicker boar visible through the front window.

The drop-in study hall opened its doors to students in mid-December, and offers an environment inspired by traditional college libraries and reading rooms.

“My hope is that the Old Boar makes studying more inspiring, bearable and maybe even fun,” said owner Kirsten Foster.

Foster, a former attorney and mother of two Bainbridge High graduates, has been tutoring on Bainbridge Island since the inception of the new verbal section of the SAT in 2004, with experience stretching back to her time as an undergraduate.

As Foster worked with students over the years, however, she found that many would benefit from a different, quasi-independent study environment, where they would be able to better develop long-term, valuable skills.

“I realized that it would be helpful for students to work independently with the ability to touch base with a tutor if needed,” said Foster. “I noticed that some students might benefit from more or less tutoring time, and a study hall environment with a dedicated tutor who isn’t tied down to just one student.”

Foster drew inspiration for the study center from her years of college study and work across Europe and the United States, and from intellectual locales such as the New York Public Library, the Dartmouth Undergraduate Reading Room or even European cafes.

Through the installment of a fireplace, cozy study nooks and couches, bookshelves bearing aged copies of hardcover titles, and a large table for collaborative work, Foster hopes to evoke the same sense of calming yet empowering intellectualism often found in libraries and cafes.

“I believe that just having the spines of books reaching out is inspiring,” Foster said.

Foster tutors in social studies, language arts, college essay advising, German and SAT prep and is complemented by former civil engineer Rusty Forrler, who assists in math (pre-algebra-AP calculus), science (biology, chemistry and physics through AP), economics and statistics.

Forrler, who recently rejoined the workforce after a break as a stay-at-home dad, is excited about the Old Boar’s mission of working with students.

“I really enjoy sharing what I know with students; just discovering for themselves and taking part in the learning process,” Forrler said.

“I’m not just a math and science guy,” he said. “I have the ability to reach across the disciplines and make the subject more accessible.”

Forrler is available at the help desk and for private tutoring from 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

The Old Boar offers three levels of tutoring options for interested students. Students may drop in and use the space for $7/day with the purchase of a 10-day punch card, with the ability to study independently or collaborate with others and with full access to the help desk.

Without the purchase of a punch card, students may drop in for $35/day. Private hourly tutoring is also offered by both Forrler and Foster.

In the short time since its opening, students have flocked to the study commons. Mckenzie Scott, a junior at BHS, has been a regular at the Old Boar since its opening.

“I like how it’s quiet and comfortable,” Scott said. “There is always someone available to ask questions if you need to.”

With the opening of the Old Boar, Foster hopes to create an excitement around the idea of a study commons and constructively ease the stress and difficulties that come with studying.

“I would love for the concept of a study commons to become familiar: a calming environment, with people united in working through studying and collaborating,” Foster said.

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