Category Archives: Tutors for All Blog: One Student At a Time

One Student At a Time

Tutors for All believes that the achievement gap will be closed in the trenches, one student at a time. This blog builds on our experience running individualized education programs for the last 8 years in district, charter, and parochial schools.

The Bon Voyage Interview: 2013-2014 AmeriCorps VISTAs

On August 8th, our two AmeriCorps VISTAs will finish their service year with Tutors for All. Charlotte Mostertz, our Tutor Recruitment Coordinator, will be moving on to athenahealth and Esther Gonzalez, our Development Coordinator, will be moving back to the West Coast. Chris Baginski, our Director of Business Development, sat down with them to talk about their VISTA year experience.

Kickball for All T Shirt From left to right: Charlotte, Esther, and Samantha (Micah Fellow)

CB: It’s amazing that your year is already coming to an end! Can you explain what AmeriCorps and what VISTA is, for people who don’t know?

CM: I guess the way I’ve always conceptualized VISTA is that we’re “human grants.” Tutors for All, and all sorts of other non-profits apply for three year VISTA grants, and instead of funding or other resources, they get human capital- us.

EG: The acronym VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America. So yeah, we’re paid through the government rather than the non-profit we work for.

CM: There are a lot of different branches of AmeriCorps, but VISTA is specifically geared towards eradicating poverty.

CB: How do you think your experience was different than some of the other VISTAs in your cohort?

Charlotte

Charlotte

EG: I guess I would say that a lot of VISTAs didn’t have anyone else at their site in a different position. For instance, a friend of ours worked in a municipal and he was the only VISTA in his workplace, which was somewhat isolating. And we also had a MICAH fellow, the fabulous Sam!

CM: There’s a learning curve when staff members are so young, but it’s also positive because there are fresh perspectives and energies.

CB: What drew you to work with Tutors for All this past year?

EG: Well, in my case a few things. I care about education, so there’s that! I remember distinctly that my interview with Mark was really long, because i was so passionate about the position itself. I had experience in fundraising, and also working in programs for an organization that needed administrative and fundraising support, which opened my eyes to how important fund development is for non-profits. So working in development at T4A seemed like a great opportunity to learn skills that would be transferable across different organizations.

CM: For me it was similar. I’m really passionate about education reform and civic obligation and social justice, and I’m at a point in my life when I don’t have obligations that would make working for AmeriCorps too difficult, since I’m only taking care of myself. I was also struck by Aimee, who was our Director of Programs when I started working. The energy that she brought to the position really encouraged me to come here.

CB: How do you think you have grown working with us? Have you learned anything about education or working at a non-profit?

Esther

Esther

EG: Oh man. There’s a lot of stuff, I’d say. I think VISTA is really unique in that it provides the opportunity to go beyond a normal entry level position. My work with Tutors was both broad and deep in ways that it wouldn’t have been somewhere else.

CM: Likewise. I’d say being in a small non-profit, you have ownership over your domain. I felt like I had a lot of control over recruitment – which was daunting, but it forces you to realize what you’re made of and how far you’re willing to go. And learning how to trust yourself as a professional is key.

CB: What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?

EG: Sometimes I think I don’t do anything. [Laughs] I read a lot, news particularly. Long form journalism. It makes me think about whether I can incorporate my love of reading into a career.

CM: That’s a VISTA-budget friendly activity! [Laughs] I read a lot too, I got a library card when I moved to Cambridge. I run a lot, I ran a half-marathon this past May. But you know, just hanging out with my friends – I have great roommates. Normal stuff.

CB: What are your plans and goals for the next chapter of your lives?

CM: Can we just say “TBD” for this question?

EG: [Laughs] Well for me, I’m from California and I’m heading back there. I’m excited to be closer to family. I’ve been in Boston for five years, for school and then work, so it will be nice to go back. Having a job with a finite end date has made it easier to plan the return to my original community. As far as goals, I really care about education, but there are other social missions that are important to me, so I’m looking into a lot of different causes, including working with counseling services, homelessness issues, and domestic violence non-profits.

CM: I’m going to be starting work with athenahealth, which provides practice management resources to physicians online. So I’ll be doing tech recruiting coordination work for them, and learning more about the healthcare industry, which I think will really become the issue of our time. (If it hasn’t already!) I really enjoyed recruitment at T4A. Longterm, I’m standing in front of two divergent paths: going into academia or continuing with a social justice/political minded type work, and maybe working on a 2016 campaign. Both are exciting.

Great Results at our Codman Summer Program!

CodmanCandidresizedtofitThis July Tutors for All ran an intensive high school math school program at Codman Academy. A group of seven students from Codman received individualized instruction Monday through Thursday for three weeks.

At the beginning, middle, and end of the program students were assessed on the same 23 pre-algebraic skills (Integers, Fractions, Decimals, Order of Operations, etc.) Some of the skills are listed below:

skilltrackerpicture

Each of the students who participated showed growth between first to last assessments. Five out of the seven students grew at or above a rate 25%, with total student growth averaging at 26%.

Codman Growth on SWYK Summer 2014

Students were surveyed at the end of the program. Most were very pleased with their experience despite the program running during summer break. The following slides are real student quotes from the survey.

Codman Summer 2014 Student Survey Results

Codman Student Survey summer2014slide4

Codman Student Survey summer2014slide6

Tutors for All has been blessed to serve Codman students for the past five years. Fall tutorial at Codman begins Saturday September 27th, 2014. Click here to become a tutor at Codman this fall.

The Most Interesting Tutor in the World? An Interview with Jason Ewas.

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When summers roll around, Jason Ewas is a familiar face in the Tutors for All office. A recent Cornell University graduate, Jason has been working with Tutors for All since 2010. He’s coming back for his last summer, and the Tutors for All paparazzi managed to get him to answer a few questions. Read on to find out about his crazy children’s book and where his dancing skills lie.

T4A: What is your full name?

Jason Joseph Ewas

T4A: Where did you go to college and what did you study?

I attended Cornell University and studied English.

T4A: What’s your hometown?

Halifax, MA

T4A: When did you start working with Tutors for All?

Fall 2010

T4A: What drew you to work in education?

At first, a vague desire to help students and, quite frankly, simply needing a work-study job. T4A had an opening, and it seemed like something I might like. During my time at T4A, however, I became increasingly interested in education and committed much of my spare time to tutoring and research.

T4A: What’s your favorite thing about Tutors for All?

Its student-centered approach, and the input that it takes from its tutors. As a tutor, I always felt that I understood the immediate and long term benefits of the content I was teaching. The T4A staff always encouraged tutors to design individualized lessons for each of our students.

T4A: What are your plans now that you’ve graduated?.

I will work in the government or non-profit sector full time, while pursuing a Master’s in Public Affairs (MSPA) at UMass Boston in the evenings.

T4A: What’s your favorite thing to do outside of tutoring?

Reading and writing. I’m currently writing a children’s book about a talking cat named Larry who journeys into the woods. This may seem a little crazy, but it’s loosely based on Dante’s Inferno.

T4A: What’s your favorite food?/Place to eat in Boston?

Anything made by my lovely girlfriend, of course. Since I’m a vegetarian, this includes broccoli Parmesan “meatballs” (I’m not joking), and various other veggie delicacies. My favorite place in Boston is True Bistro in Somerville, even though I’ve only been there twice. It’s delicious vegan food.

T4A: What’s the most interesting thing about you that we didn’t know?

Well, the T4A staff knows this, but most people don’t, and are often surprised and disbelieving when I tell them: I am a very talented hip-hop dancer.

Tutors for All Announces New Partnership with the YMCA!

EastBoston YMCA

 

Starting this summer Tutors for All will be running summer camp and after school programs at YMCA locations across Boston.

T4A will serve elementary school students attending YMCA summer camp and after school programs. This first of these programs will begin at the Roxbury YMCA this July. In the fall we will conduct our first after school program at the East Boston YMCA. We look forward to expanding our outreach to Boston youth through the YMCA. Check back for updates throughout the year!

The Kickball for All Play-by-play

You don’t have to be into sports to be into kickball. If you weren’t able to make it to our Kickball for All event a few weeks ago, here’s a quick run down of the event, the Team Captains, the Tutors for All alums who stopped by, and our fantastic sponsors.

The Event

It seems like everyone and their mother is currently memorized by the World Cup. The victory, the heartbreak, the drama!

Look at the sweat on that brow.

Look at the sweat on that brow. (Mike of the Test-takers)

Tutors for All recently experienced the same intense drama during the final game of Kickball for All. It the final inning of the championship game between the Amazing Youngbloods and the Test-takers. The Youngbloods had a 4-0 lead, so it looked like the end. No one suspected that the Test-takers would put on some major game face, which resulted in multiple runs and an outta-the-park game-winning kick.

Teams and Team Captains

062714 Team Captain Banner

From left to right: Melissa Schick (Mathmagical Dragons), Sunessa Schettler (Amazing Youngbloods), Andy Stewart (Test-takers), Hywel Williams (Boston Leg-swingers), Chris Baginski, and Esther Gonzalez.

Kickball could not have been successful without our hardworking Team Captains. They not only fearlessly led their team on the field, but they also led them through a successful fundraising campaign on Crowdrise. Three cheers for supporting education equality!

Kickball Cards of T4A Alums!

We were lucky to have a few Tutor Alums drop in. Take a look at their kickball cards:

062614 Colby Jackson Card

 

062614 Patrick Welton Card

 

062614 Andreas Wolfe Card

 

062614 Juin Zhou Card

And finally…a word from our sponsors!

We would like to wholeheartedly thank our sponsors who gave at all levels.

062014 Final Kickball Slider

Introducing the Tutors for All Online Store!

Kickball for All T Shirt 1 Now you can buy your very own Tutors for All Swag! Help support our fight to bridge the achievement gap one student at a time  by purchasing a sweet T-Shirt from our online store. All proceeds go to Tutors for All programs around the city. Currently we’re selling Kickball for All 2014 T-Shirts. These shirts are the very same worn by the kickball players and commemorate our summer fundraiser (June 7th, 2014). They come in a range of colors!  CBKBALLSHIRTFRONT

Kickball for All 2014

Kickball Cover

Kickball for All is happening Saturday June 7th at Medal of Honor Park in South Boston from 2pm-6pm. In this post we breakdown the structure of the event, debut our official team shirts and thank our fantastic sponsors! Check out kickballforall.org for more info and remember to use #kickballforall when sharing this with your friends! Click is this link to sign up to play. Click here to donate to the cause. All proceeds go to support Tutors for All programs around the city.

Round Robin

 

Kickball for All  2014 will kick off with a round-robin. Click here to see the rules and regulations. First games will start at 2:30pm sharp! Team will be divided into two separate groups: Group A and Group B. Currently the number of teams are not finalized. After the round robin the best teams from each group will compete for the championship. We’re expecting a field of 8 teams. Here is a breakdown of what the tournament will look like:

8 team format

Group 1

Group 2

Round #

Match #

Teams

Time

Round #

Match #

Teams

Time

1

1

A vs. B

2:30

1

1

A vs. B

2:30

2

C vs. D

2:50

2

C vs. D

2:50

2

3

A vs. C

3:10

2

3

A vs. C

3:10

4

B vs. D

3:30

4

B vs. D

3:30

3

5

A vs. D

3:50

3

5

A vs. D

3:50

6

B vs. C

4:10

6

B vs. C

4:10

Group A Semi Final

Group B Semi Final

Round#

Match

Teams

Time

Round#

Match #

Teams

Time

4

1

A vs. D

4:30

4

1

A vs. D

4:30

Championship Round

Winner Group A

vs.

Winner Group B


Team Gear

Tutors for All is excited to debut the official Kickball for All 2014 Team T-Shirts. Each team will be outfitted with the shirts in their desired color. Shout Out to Krista at Bias Design for creating such an awesome shirt!

Kickball T Shirt

Sponsors

BGoodboomTutors for All is proud to announce that b.good will be the official burger of Kickball for All 2014. Each participant and spectator will receive their choice of beef, turkey, or veggie burgers compliments of b.good- “Food Made By People, Not Factories”

Thank you Residential Mortage Services and Sunny Day Fitness for officially sponsoring two of the participating Kickball teams:

rms-logo

SunnyDayFitnesslogo

 

Tutors for All would also like to thank Staples for providing free printing for all of our Kickball for All 2014 promotional materials. Finally, thank you to all of our other event sponsors : Newbury Place, Sorriso Italian Trattoria, Zygomates Wine Bar-Bistro, Elizabeth Grady, CVS Pharmacy, City Sports, Sagarino’s, Signet Education, Shaw’s & Star Market Grocery Stores, George Brackett Associates, Pain Relief Physical Therapy, Trader Joe’s, La Flamme Barber Shop.

T4A Partner, MGH Youth Scholars, Profiled by WBZ-TV

MGH Spring 2014 Report

Recently, the MGH Youth Scholars were profiled by WBZ-TV. This amazing health career-oriented program exposes high school aged students to careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) world. In addition to experiential learning, MGH provides the Youth Scholars with Academic Coaches through a partnership with Tutors for All.

Tutors for All works with Scholars on the academic side of the program. Known as “Academic Day”, each week the scholars are given direct one-on-one instruction in a given topic. Scholars have the opportunity to work on math or literacy skills, PSAT prep, or how to apply study and working skills to their school curriculum.

All coaching sessions are focused around a learning strategy designed to help students internalize knowledge and self-regulate learning. For math Tutors for All utilizes the JUMP Math curriculum developed in Toronto, Canada by John Mighton.  JUMP Math breaks basic math instruction into manageable steps and then builds on those concepts as students demonstrate mastery. T4A Literacy Coaches used short readings as a daily starting point for their literacy instruction. T4A literacy curriculum ranges from basic skills, PSAT prep, SAT prep, Accuplacer prep, and AP class level. Tutors for All provided each scholar with the appropriate level according to the results of the scholars’ diagnostic assessment.

MGH Spring 2014 Report Bar Graph

(Note: Y Axis measure growth in grade equivalency (GE) or academic years over the course of the program.)

Above is a snapshot of our results from the Spring 2014 semester. The above chart represents academic data for scholars with 80% or greater attendance. GMADE was the standardized test given to assess math, GRADE was the standardized test given to assess literacy.

Overall Scholars reported an overwhelmingly positive feeling about “Academic Day” with Tutors for All. A performance survey on the last day of their program is represented below.

MGH Spring 2014 Tutor Performance

The partnership between Tutors for All and MGH’s Youth Scholars program is going into its fourth year this summer. As one of our longest running current partners, we have enjoyed working with MGH and are looking forward to working in the future.

Meet Teach For America’s Newest Star: Tutors for All Alum Andreas Wolfe

Pictured: Chris Baginski and Andreas Wolfe

Pictured: Chris Baginski and Andreas Wolfe

We are happy to announce that five Tutors for All tutors were accepted to Teach for America this year. One of them, BC Alum Andreas Wolfe, shared his thoughts on how Tutors for All shaped his journey to TFA. 

T4A: What is your full name? 

AW: Andreas Warren Wolfe

T4A: Where did you go to college and what did you study?

AW: Boston College – History Major

T4A: What’s your hometown?

AW: Brookline, MA

T4A: When did you start working with Tutors for All?

AW: 2012

T4A: What drew you to work in education?

AW: When I first heard about tutoring, I applied because I wanted to do something completely different.

T4A: What’s your favorite thing about Tutors for All?

AW: The reward of seeing a child’s improvement.

T4A: What are you doing after you graduate?

AW: I will be teaching middle school or high school math with Teach For America in Philadelphia.

T4A: Has Tutors for All helped prepare you to serve with Teach for America? If so, how?

AW: Tutors For All has been extremely valuable and I owe it to Tutors For All for getting the job in the first place.  It was my first introduction to nearly all of the concepts that are vital to understanding how children work and the secret to helping them succeed.

T4A: Do you start in the September ? or is there some training beforehand?

AW: Training begins June 17th, and will last through the summer.

T4A: What are your plans for after Teach for America?

AW: My long term goal is to obtain a dual masters in city planning and transportation engineering in order to design safer and more economically viable streets.

T4A: What’s your favorite thing to do outside of teaching/tutoring?

AW: Biking, both for everyday transportation and for athleticism.

T4A: What’s your favorite food?/Place to eat in Boston?

AW: The Super 88 Food Court, most notably the Bahn Mi sandwiches at Pho Viet.  $3.95 is a small price for a life changing experience.

T4A: What’s the most interesting thing about you that we didn’t know?

AW: I’m a walking GPS.

 

 

 

 

Why did you tutor? Why do you support Tutors for All?

At our Tutor Alum Networking Event last month, we were able to interview a group of some of our inspiring former tutors. They talked about why they decided to tutor then and why they still support Tutors for All years after their experience.

There were some trends in the video. Two of the four main interviewees, Deejay Robinson and Nicole Spaulding, are currently working as teachers. Similarly, 22% of the members of our Tutors for All Alumni Network group on LinkedIn are in the Education field. 11% are specifically in primary and secondary education.

Nonetheless, there was a tremendous diversity in their answers. Jennifer Zavala highlighted how her personal experience coming from an immigrant family motivated her to work with underserved students and guide them towards the resources they need to succeed. Tai Sassen-Liang, who later went on to teach at the MATCH school, noted a sense of needing to “do something” on a hands-on and grassroots level for the larger community.

When talking about why they still support Tutors for All, Deejay commented, “As a teacher right now in Boston public schools…I know what’s needed. And with my experience with Tutors for All, I see the work that Tutors for All does. The impact that the one-on-one connection that their model has…Boston needs it. And I know that there are other urban districts that need it.”

Nicole also spoke with the authority of experience as an educator, and also specifically highlighted the power of individualized instruction: “I see the great things that individualized instruction does for kids and the ways that children who get individualized instruction can continue to grow.”

Jennifer spoke about how she wishes that there were more people to help young people access education resources. Tai asserted that the work that Tutors for All does is important because it connects tutors to the students that could benefit most from individualized instruction.

Listening to this group of Tutor Alums left us humbled and re-inspired in our work to bridge the achievement gap for underserved Boston youth.