Shadrach Walcott is a rising 8th grade student at Young Achievers Pilot School in Mattapan. His tutor Ms. Dejeanne Doublet, a senior at Boston University, studies Environmental Science and Print Journalism. Between July and August, Shadrach and his tutor met daily in T4A’s 5-week summer intensive program at Young Achievers to build Shadrach’s skills in Math and English Language Arts. During this time Shadrach’s performance as a student has, in the words of his tutor, “skyrocketed.” Shad started the semester by scoring 79% on his diagnostic test. He subsequently scored 89% and 92% on his interim tests. Inspired by Shad’s and Dejeanne’s success, Tutors for All asked them to talk about what made their work together so effective.
Having served with Tutors for All for three semesters between 2010-2011, Ms. Doublet returned to the organization this summer, and it is clear that her passion about education hasn’t waned. Not content to merely execute her lessons and move on, Ms. Doublet likes to see her students’ growth reflected in their attitudes about themselves. She states, “The best part of tutorial is that moment when students realize that they’ve learned something new – that they can do something they couldn’t do yesterday. I love it when students feel proud of what they’ve accomplished and when they say themselves that they feel they are ‘becoming smarter.’”
Shad meditates on why he found Ms. Doublet’s approach helpful: “I knew she would be very easy to understand from our first session together. I felt good each day because I learned everything step by step. She taught me how to divide, multiply, subtract, and add fractions. In literacy, I learned a lot about figurative language such as analogy and personification.” Dejeanne also learned from her student: “When discussing ideas and themes that appear in the novels we were reading, such as justice and friendship,” says Ms. Doublet, “I would say that I gained just as much from hearing his ideas as he gained from me.”
The way in which Ms. Doublet tapped into Shad’s personality to engage him more deeply in the lessons exemplifies her empathetic approach. Indeed, Ms. Doublet encouraged Shad’s own creativity while teaching literacy: “We incorporated a movie script into one of his lessons, and he impressed me with a well thought-out script. We have also incorporated some drawing exercises to help Shad ‘visualize’ the text. His drawings were phenomenal and really captured the essence of the text.” Given his artistic perspective, Ms. Doublet’s approach made perfect sense: “I like reading because it’s like a motion picture in my head,” says Shad. Ms. Doublet describes her method best: “By switching my role and reflecting on myself as a learner, I was better able to understand Shad as a student and incorporate techniques that make learning easier in our lessons.”
Dejeanne wishes her student the best of luck in the academic year. “Through this program, I have come to know Shad as a hardworking, creative, and insightful student,” says Ms. Doublet. “He is sure to go on to do great things.”