Monthly Archives: December 2014

Preempting the Achievement Gap, One Second Grader at a Time

 

20141210_170158The Fall of 2014 brought a number of changes at Tutors For All.  Through a partnership with the YMCA, the organization began a new program at the Curtis Guild School in East Boston, and welcomed program director Hannah DeAngelis to steer the program, and take over Tutors For All’s successful Tobin Program in Mission Hill.

This Fall also brought another exciting new project, a 2nd grade program. The results of the program were astounding.  Between the first and second Show What You Know tests, the class average rose an average of 34%, with almost every student achieving at least 30% growth.

Working with Hannah, I had a chance to ask what her thoughts were when starting the 2nd grade program.  It was an easy choice.  Hannah told me, “We had more than enough tutors to meet the needs of the 2nd graders at the YMCA.”

SkillTracker_JumpGrade 2It took some time to develop materials for the program.   There was no second grade curriculum and no skill tracker developed.  However, working closely with 2nd grade teachers, YMCA and Curtis Guild Staff, the Guild team built new materials all within a week.  Tutorial skills ranged from counting to patterns and attributes to measurements.

During the last week of the program, I sat down with 2nd graders Davi, Juan and Gabrielly.  I asked what each of them liked about tutoring.  Juan was quick to chirp in, “Tutoring is hard.” When I pried a bit further, he clarified, “My tutor never gives up.  Even when I don’t know, she pushes me to learn.”

The YMCA program is still hiring a few spots for the spring semester, so apply now to make a difference.  Special shout-outs to all the 2nd graders, tutors, lead tutors, and to YMCA program coordinators Rachel Hemstock and Kevin DeCosta for helping this program reach its full potential.

Andreas Wolfe, YMCA Lead Tutor and Tobin Program Coordinator

 

 

Celebrating our Fall Programs

On Thursday, December 4th, over 25 tutors, coordinators, and program managers gathered at the NonProfit Center for our Fourth Annual Awards Night.  This evening was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the multitude of accomplishments from our tutors this semester!  Everyone enjoyed pizza (graciously donated to the event by Regina Pizzeria), talked to one another, and listened closely as the following awards were presented…

TOBIN AWARDS:

MVP: Caroline MartelAward's Night #3

Growth Mindset Award: Soriya Peng

Most Patient: Aiza Kabeer

Most Enthusiastic: Makaylin Randall

Most Hours Volunteered: Bennett Hadley

Rookie Award: Taylor Peck

 

Award's Night 1MGH AWARDS:Award's Night #2

MVP- Harrison Soebroto

Growth Mindset Award: Heer Patel

Most Enthusiastic:  Lauren Chaleff

Most Hours Volunteered: Cathy Baker

 

YMCA AWARDS:

MVP:  Rebecca VilardoAward's Night #4

Growth Mindset Award: Lucas Dispoto

Most Patient:  Sylvia Sanchez

Most Enthusiastic: Sara Chaffee

Most Hours Volunteered: Tina Safford

Rookie Award: Mariana Bastarrachea

 

CODMAN AWARDS:

MVPs: Desiree Houston and Gina Jimenez

Morning Person: Elsie Mayo

Award's Night #5Growth Mindset Award: Joel Betke

Most Enthusiastic: Thien Le

Most Patient: Ben Moran and Tom Little

Most Hours Volunteered: Tim Sakharov

Infectious Positivity: Sam Robertson

Student Rapport Building: Lexus Williams

Student Flexibility: Phillip Jones, Ben Bolotin, and Jacinta Dyke

 

Congratulations to all the award recipients and to everyone who has tutored with us this semester!  We appreciate all the work you do to help us bridge the achievement gap!

Applications are open for Spring tutoring positions.  Remember that we reward any referral that leads to the hiring and successful placement of a work-study or volunteer tutor with a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate.

 Happy Holidays and we look forward to working with you again in the New Year!

Elizabeth Marshall, Tutor Support Coordinator

Jennifer Zavala: Tutor, College Graduate, Mom

Jen ZavalaI’m a first generation college student.  Going to college was very different for me.  I didn’t have any guidance.  I didn’t know anything about how the process worked.  Guidance counselors asked me: “Where do you want to go to school?” I couldn’t even put that together.  I remember my guidance counselor threw out a few colleges and Northeastern was one of them. I ended up going to Northeastern.

 

The first year or two of college was just figuring out what this is.  I was a straight A student in high school.  But you need to put in a lot of time in college. You have to have the discipline to be on your own, and to know that you need to go to class to do your projects.

 

I stumbled across Tutors for All because I was looking for a work study job.  I remember the day I met with Mark.  He interviewed me and hired me on the spot.

I grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts in a tough neighborhood.  It’s low income and back then, there was a lot of crime and violence.   So I had seen that all before, but when I started working for Tutors for All, I saw the other side of it.  I saw urban youth facing their own challenges.  Single parent households and  teen pregnancy were very common.  I wanted to make a difference, but  it was hard because I was a college sophomore telling high school freshmen and sophomores: “this is what we’re going to do”. I had to be an adult, yet I was still only a student. Eventually, I became a lead tutor and led a team of four other tutors as we helped Boston high school students.

 

When I got pregnant my sophomore year, I didn’t want to stop going to college.  My mom and dad said, “You have to work,” and I did as a coordinator at Tutors for All.  It was with a lot of sweat and tears and not without regrets.  I didn’t get to take full advantage of college life.  But I did get my degree and I graduated in 2008 on time.

 

I studied business management.  I have been working for banks ever since.  I started as a teller and I worked for a few financial institutions. Today, I work for First Republic in downtown Boston.  I am a private banker.  I deal with high net-worth clients and businesses helping them with all their needs: checking, savings, mortgage, and wealth-management.  I really like what I do.  I have a lot of flexibility.  I deal with clients all the time in different situations.  I get invited to events and get involved with different organizations to help make things happen around the city.

jen z

 

My eight-year-old is in 3rd grade.  It’s been a tough year for her because she now has to be a big kid.  Because of working with Tutors for All, I have the experience to deal with her.  She comes home frustrated and she says, “Mom, I can’t do this math homework” so I break it down for her.  I am careful about how I say things so that I don’t make her feel like she’s not smart enough.  Tutors for All gave me that confidence to be able to help her.  I constantly challenge her to think: “Does this make sense?  Explain it yourself.  You may understand what you are writing, but do other people understand it?” I think it’s because I have that tutoring experience in the back of my head that it always puts me in that mode.  It’s an hour every day of homework: reading and writing homework, math homework.

 

My advice for current tutors is to have a lot of patience.   If a tutor doesn’t show a student that they really care,  it is not going to work.  As a tutor, that’s the hardest thing to learn how to do.  It takes time and it doesn’t happen right away.  No matter how much you get trained up front, it’s not something that you can be taught.  You can learn to lesson plan and how to teach long division, but it’s having that ability to show kids “I’m here because I care about you”.  That makes all the difference.  After all, everything that we do is driven by passion.