Category Archives: Tutors for All Blog: 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.

Meet Our Coordinators: Kyle, Rachel, and Aaron!

This semester at Tutors for All has been busy as usual, but luckily we’ve had the support of outstanding new coordinators! All former tutors, these three have returned to T4A to help us continue our mission in new capacities. They recently had the chance to share a little bit about themselves and discuss what they’ve taken away so far:

From left: Kyle Bejnerowicz, Rachel Hemstock, Aaron Hume

Tell us about yourself.

Kyle: I am an opera singer! I have been a musician ever since I can remember. I have a bachelor of music in vocal performance from New England Conservatory, here in Boston. I have been lucky enough to travel to Europe several times to perform in operas in counties like Germany and Austria. Tutors For All grew my interest in education so much that I am now a master in education student at Northeastern; this is something I would have never guessed I would be interested in only a few years ago. As I study at Northeastern, I am a full-time student at New England Conservatory as a master of music candidate! BUSY!!!

Rachel: I am working as the Development Coordinator. In August, I completed my B.S. degree in Business Administration and Economics from Northeastern University. I am currently pursuing my M.S. in Finance from Northeastern. I’ve previously served with T4A as tutor and program coordinator. My professional experience includes working as a business analyst, financial analyst, and most recently in consulting. During my time as an undergrad, I was the Vice President of Philanthropy for my student organization where I developed all of our fundraising and service programming events.

Aaron: I am the Data and Technology Coordinator with Tutors for All, which means I administrate the website, I collect and analyze tutor/student statistics, and keep our technology running smoothly for the rest of our staff. I grew up just over the river in Cambridge, and after moving to New York for college – getting my B.A. in Math and Psychology at Columbia – I came back to my hometown to stay.

What drew you to Tutors for All?

Kyle: I was a huge math geek in high school. I remember I went to math-summer camp and took Algebra II the summer between sophomore and junior year. I eventually made the choice to go to a music conservatory; this meant I wouldn’t take another math class or science class ever again in my college studies. Tutors For All was a great chance for me to use my math-brain and to give share my enthusiasm about this kind of work with the students!

Rachel: When I first started with Tutors for All, I noticed the directimpact that our work was making. Iloved working with students to help them realize their full potential and knew that coming back to the organization in a different capacity would allow me to help the organization excel in a different way. Tutors for All is an organization that makes a big impact in lives of our own City’s youth, and I’m excited to be a part of that impact.

Aaron: I’ve worked with Tutors for All over the summer term in college, and I loved the experience of making such close connections with my students. More recently, I was looking for a bridge to gain experience in statistics before going on to grad school, and the opportunity to come back to T4A fell into my lap. I realized what a great chance this was with a wonderful organization, so I didn’t think twice.

What is the most rewarding part about working for T4A? What have you learned so far?

Kyle: The most rewarding part is watching the students grow more mature and become better behaved and motivated. Students always ask about college and traveling. I love seeing the students aspire to be something and aspire to go somewhere. All the students can do whatever they set their minds to; it is most rewarding when I see them want something and then achieve it.

Rachel: The most rewarding part about working with T4A is the ability to make a direct impact on the organization. So far, I’ve learned that there is so much more to learn about development!

Aaron: Tutoring with T4A, the most rewarding thing was working with a student on something they have given up on understanding, and finally reaching a moment of excitement when they realize they can do it. Now working in the data arena, the reward is in finding small tweaks to how we collect and use our data that should make the work we do stronger in the long term.

What are you most looking forward to in your work with T4A in 2017?

Kyle: My master of education degree has a concentration in higher education administration. I am looking forward to continue to learn more, from Mark and all the other T4A staff, how running an educational business like this one works. I am becoming more and more organized each day and each project I undertake.

Rachel: I’m most excited to host our fundraising events in the Spring. It will give me a chance to meet and connect with everyone who’s been a part of helping T4A be successful in making a difference in our student’s lives!

Aaron: I’m looking forward to further developing my website management skill. With such a small team at T4A, there may not be anyone to fill in my lack of experience with web design, so I’m excited to figure out firsthand how to keep things running smoothly on the back end!

What has been your most memorable T4A experience so far?

Kyle: One time at Codman Academy, we were short tutors for a tutorial session. I had to tutor 6 students by myself. I felt like I had ran a marathon after. My whole body was sore and my brain was fried. It amazed me how a great teacher will go out there 180 times a year and expertly conduct a new lesson plan each day.

Rachel: Recently, I attended a talk on the current state of STEM education. As the panelists spoke about the inequality faced by Boston’s students, I immediately felt so proud and humbled to be a part of an organization that has not only recognized this injustice for years, but has also been working effortlessly to give all of our kids equal opportunity and bridge the achievement gap.

Aaron: Most memorable for me has been running interviews with new prospective tutors, and seeing the same excitement to make a difference for young people that I felt in the same position. I’ve gotten to share my story and hear theirs, and feel like a part of a much larger cycle of both teaching and learning collaboratively.

What are your personal goals for the future?

Kyle: As a musician, my overall-main goal for the future is to be in the higher-administration of a music school. I wish to continue to perform music, continue to write music and study it; while working with other musical-educators to foster a strong musical community at a school like my current home, NEC.

Rachel: On the far horizon, my personal goal is to eventually go back to school and study public policy, so that I can find ways to be a part of long lasting change in our communities.

Aaron: My goals are to go to a graduate school for mathematics or statistics in the area, and then apply a greater statistical skillset to working for nonprofits in the future.

Any other thoughts?

Kyle: Tutors For All is a great family, and has helped me find what my true interests are! For such a small organization, we leave a HUGE impact!

Aaron: I’m just excited to be a member of the team and to work with my colleagues in supporting the academic and professional growth of students and tutors alike.

Fall Preview: Codman Academy

Fall tutorial is well under way, and this week we’d like to share with you a bit about one of our programs: Codman Academy.

We are so looking forward to the results of this program that we want to take you on the journey with us! Read about how this program exemplifies some of our elements of effective tutorial and check back at the end of the semester for an update.

Program History

Codman and Tutors for all have been partnered since 2008 (almost 10 years!), primarily running tutorial for 9th and 10th graders in preparation for the 10th grade MCAS exam.

We have also offered math tutorial to the 5th and 6th grade in years past. Before Fall 2017, Codman tutorial at the high school used to take place on Saturdays (10th grade in the morning, 9th grade in the afternoon).

This Semester

Unlike in the past, T4A runs weekday and in-school programming at Codman this semester, supporting 41 students total in the 9th and 10th grade through two separate sessions! Here are some concrete ways you can see our elements of effective tutorial being put into place: 

High Quality Oversight

  •  Our Lead Tutor for Monday/Wednesday is Axel Garcia, an MIT graduate student who also helps to coordinate our administrative duties over the course of the week. 
  •  Christina Schempf, a New England Conservatory graduate student, is our Lead Tutor for Tuesday/Thursday.

Professionalization of Tutors 

  • Tutorial itself runs for an hour, with the remaining time devoted to lesson planning/reflection, individual development, and tutor assistance in Codman classrooms.
  • All tutors have undergone extensive training and are expected to continually perfect their practice. We are invested in developing tutors as thoughtful and skilled educators who feel confident in their ability to deliver content, and we strive to offer them professional support as well as opportunities to give feedback.

1:1 or 1:2 Ratios

  • We have 17 tutors serving at Codman, most of whom tutor twice a week, keeping the tutor-student ratio low!

Balanced Collaboration and Autonomy 

  • Our Curriculum Associate, Lena Umar, is currently updating the 10th Grade MCAS curriculum this emester. These new packets focus primarily on updating the passages and problems to match the MCAS framework, as well as giving the lesson a structure that allows students to gradually progress from instruction to independent work.
  • The humanities curriculum is being created/updated by Sahar Hakim, Codman’s Program Manager. Half the lesson is devoted to Independent Reading and responses, and the other half of the lesson is Direct Instruction. This allows students to take what they’ve learned at school and bring it to tutorial (and vice versa), creating a cohesive experience between partners and T4A’s programs. 

Regular Assessment and Progress Monitoring

  • Diagnostic testing for math and ELA just wrapped up, and there’s plenty of room to grow on all fronts. We expect to see lots of progress from these fantastic students at the end of the semester on their final assessments!

Thoughts from the Coordinator

“I think there are two or three things I’m most looking forward to at Codman. Like every year, I look forward to forging relationships with the students so that tutorial becomes a productive and welcoming space for them. I also look forward to working directly with Codman teachers and other staff to ensure effective use of class and tutorial time, which I only did minimally as a Program Coordinator. I hope whatever influence I have is only positive!” – Sahar Hakim

 

Introducing Our New Program Managers, Carra and Sahar!

As the school year gets into full swing, we at Tutors for All would like you to meet two new members of our team: Carra Fraker and Sahar Hakim! They’ve been doing terrific work this past month to help students and tutors start strong.

We recently had the chance to chat with Carra and Sahar about their backgrounds and experiences so far with T4A.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
William Tangorra PhotographyCarra: I’m the newest Program Manager at T4A, and I’m working for the Boston Green Academy program. I’ll also be focusing on some curriculum development and grantwriting. Before working for T4A, I was an ELA teacher at a large public suburban high school, and I loved it, but I decided that it was time for a career change that would expand my impact. I have a B.A. and an M.Ed from Boston College.

Sahar: I’m the Program Manager at Codman Academy as wellSahar Hakim headshot
as the Marketing Manager at T4A. I’ve been in Boston my whole life—I received a B.A. in English from Simmons College, and after an editorial internship at Beacon Press, I applied for and received an M.A. in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College. All throughout my school career, I have been a tutor in some way, shape or form (though usually as a language tutor), and spent a few years as a private tutor in Arabic and Qur’an studies for young children.

What drew you to Tutors for All?

Carra: I believe education is the greatest tool for social justice, and I felt drawn to T4A’s mission and its roots. There are plenty of organizations that are doing their part in addressing the achievement gap, but it seems to me that Tutors for All is one of the most student-centered. I also love having the opportunity to work with students at the K-12 level and at the college and graduate school level.

Sahar: I discovered Tutors for All during my sophomore year at Simmons, and tutored at the Prospect Hill Academy and MGH Programs during the summer of 2011. I really enjoyed the ways in which I could work on my own and reflect as part of a team. Later, when I joined as a Program Coordinator, I realized that so much of what I stand for involves working between “at the forefront” and “behind the scenes,” along with establishing and strengthening relationships outside of an academic mindset. So I try to implement that at every program where I work.

What is the most rewarding part about working for T4A? What have you learned so far?

Carra: I’ve done nothing but learn so far! It’s such a pleasure to be with like-minded and hard-working colleagues who are eager to help me learn and grow into this new position. I think the most rewarding thing will be watching students become more confident in their abilities while simultaneously watching tutors, who are of course also students, gain a new skill set and grow in their professionalism. T4A really serves both groups.

Sahar: The most rewarding part is definitely relationship-building with students. It’s a process and a balance that’s renewed every year, but I’ve learned that even stopping a student to say hello and ask how they’re doing is more effective than immediately asking for a hall pass. The more you engage positively with a student, the more you’re likely to have an impact on them, and vice versa. Sometimes, students may come up to me and show me something they’ve learned, or ask to bring home an assessment they’re proud of, and encouraging them in that way is always rewarding to me.

What are you most looking forward to in your work with T4A in 2017-2018?

Carra: I’m looking forward to learning more about grantwriting–that is a new area for me!

Sahar: Currently, I’m looking forward to the prospect of Codman being a weekday program. In my experience as a Coordinator, Codman was exclusively a Saturday program, but I think being on campus Monday through Thursday gives me and the tutors a better opportunity to integrate ourselves into the school’s environment and community, and to meet more closely with students and teachers! I’m also looking forward to having a heavier hand in the way of marketing and social media; it lets me apply a lot of what I learned in the way of publishing in ways I never thought I’d be able to.

What has been your most memorable T4A experience so far?

Carra: On my very first day, our Special Projects Associate Kyle rollerbladed into the office to deliver baked goods. I thought to myself, “I think I’m going to be very happy here…”

Sahar: There was a time last fall when I was visiting Codman to do some inventory for the upcoming program, and as I was leaving, I happened to run into one of our students from last year. His reaction, and how happy he was to see me still working as part of the Codman community, really sticks out to me.

What are your personal goals for the future?

Carra: I’m eager to grow into new leadership roles. One of the reasons I left the classroom (which was a very difficult choice, by the way) was because I felt I was ready for new challenges, but I also felt that getting my administrative license and becoming a principal wasn’t the right path for me. I think T4A is a unique organization with a great deal of potential, and I’m so happy to be a part of its future.

Sahar: I think my current goal is to continue to establish myself as a member of the school communities where I work. In the meantime, I’ve always wanted to write a book, or be published in some way. I have ideas—it’s just a matter of getting them down on paper.

Meet Our New Staff: Ben and Irina!

This new year at Tutors for All has brought some terrific new staff, including our newest Program Managers, Ben Cottingham and Irina Uk!  We recently had the opportunity to chat with Ben and Irina about their backgrounds, what brought them to T4A, and what they have taken away from their work so far.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself. 

4208283611782924926?account_id=2Ben: I am a Program Manager for Boston Green Academy and Boston International Newcomers Academy. Before coming across Tutors for All, I was a Curriculum Writer for the Oklahoma State Department of Education and served as a Corps Member for Teach for America in Oklahoma City. I graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, near my hometown of Hendersonville, NC. When I have free time, I enjoy activities such as traveling, mountain biking, snowboarding, and playing soccer.

Irina: I am the Program Manager at the Tobin School. Prior to working at Tutors for All, I taught high school mathematics and led a Precalculus course team in a Chicago charter school. I received my Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Technology, Innovation and Education in 2013. After graduating, I explored my interest in leveraging technology to improve education by Irina Uk Feature Photodesigning learning technologies for companies such as HarvardX, CAST, IDC Herziliya’s Media Innovation Lab, Scholastic and Knewton. Now, I enjoy working in both education leadership and access roles, as well as designing code education programs. Besides managing a program at Tutors for All, I lead a Coding Club for kids through the Lesley STEAM Lab. In my free time, I enjoy creating digital art, and practicing martial arts and yoga.

2. What drew you to Tutors for All?

Ben: In my experience as an educator, I saw the transformative power tutorials and remediation had on student achievement. However, many educators are already overburdened with their multitude of other responsibilities and cannot successfully work one-on-one with students. Tutors for All ensures that high need students receive the additional attention they need to be successful, enabling teachers to focus on developing quality whole class instruction.

Irina: I liked the mission of Tutors for All. I wanted to help others inspire kids to love learning and to provide them with the tools they would not otherwise have access to.

3. What is the most rewarding part about working for T4A? What have you learned so far?

Ben: The most rewarding part is certainly watching the students grow and succeed. The growth of tutors as young professionals is remarkable as well. Their enthusiasm to become a part of the broader education movement is refreshing and renews our drive to continue the work we do at Tutors for All.

Irina: I love sharing ideas with other Program Managers- we learn from each other. I also love seeing tutors when they recognise what a large difference they have made in someone’s life.

4. What are you most looking forward to in your work with T4A in 2017?

Ben: I’m extremely excited to begin work as Program Manager at Codman Academy. The school has a reputation for providing exemplary educational opportunities and is currently our longest running program and I’m eager to begin working with their fantastic students and staff.

Irina: I am looking forward to growing the Tobin program. I know my team has the potential to effect more change.

5. What has been your most memorable T4A experience so far?

Ben: At Boston International Newcomers Academy, many students are recent arrivals to the US and we were fortunate to have an alum from last year volunteer with us as a tutor. Seeing the impact she has coming back to help other students has been very impactful to students, teachers, and our program. Hopefully, she will inspire others to take up the same service in future years.

Irina: My most memorable experience was when a student who was apathetic to the program at the beginning said, “My tutor makes me smile.” And another said, “I low-key like tutors.” I thought to myself, what a huge difference we are making.

6. What are your goals for the future?

Ben: My immediate future plans involve attending one of several graduate programs in education leadership beginning in fall 2017. Ultimately, I would like to develop policy for the federal department of education or hold public office.

Irina: I want to continue to improve the ongoing PD program for the tutors, and also grow the Tobin program.

7. Did you make any new years resolutions? How are they going?

Ben: I want to improve my Spanish skills to where I can easily carry a conversation with native speakers. It’s going well so far, I’ve practiced for an hour each day with either a language learning software or a friend.

Irina: Several years ago, I made a resolution not to make resolutions. I have weekly goals that I try to meet. I think change happens in small increments. I try to focus on each day and make it as good as it could be.

Kudos to Our Fall 2016 Students and Tutors!

Last month, Tutors for All wrapped up six noteworthy programs (including a new partnership with Boston International Newcomers Academy)! This past semester in particular, there was an emphasis on student-driven learning and creating a synergistic environment between scholars and tutors. We’d like to share a bit about four of the programs, as well as some of the results!

MGHMassachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Community Health Improvement

The Masachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement (MGH CCHI) and Tutors for All continued their partnership this Fall by offering academic support to 18 total scholars in 10th-12th grade. With the support of 15 coaches (tutors) from local colleges and universities, the Youth Scholars Program ran for 10 weeks and catered to all students, especially those who met a certain criteria based on assessments, GPA, and core class grades.

Each scholar received 120 minutes of academic support every session, and a collegiate academic environment was created, encouraging a scholar-driven learning approach. Overall, the vast majority of scholars indicated overwhelming satisfaction with their coaches, rating them a 4 or 5/5.

Students who received tutoring in reading gained an average of 1.2 years of skill over the ten week program; students who received math tutoring  gained an average of 1.93 years!

Many of the students expressed great appreciation for the support they received from their tutors over the course of the semester. One student in particular said, “Thanks for pushing me to believe that I can improve even when the world is moving faster than I can read.” 

 

Boston Green Academy BGA FALL 2016

T4A began its partnership with the Boston Green Academy in the fall of 2015, and this past semester transitioned to an in-school, pull out model to increase student attendance. Tutorial sessions took place during the school day, one group on Tuesday and the other on Thursday.

Twenty-one students enrolled in the program with the support of nine local tutors from Bostonian colleges and universities. Coaches were given a sequence of skills to cover with their students throughout the semester based on the four primary domains of the 10th grade MCAS Math exam.

About 90% of the students did as well as or better on the end assessment than they did on the first assessment, and about 60% of the total students showed significant improvements on the tests given to them at both the beginning and end of each tutorial session!

TOBINTobin K-8 School Program

Tutors for All began its partnership with the Tobin School in 2010 and has been working with students exclusively on math since 2012. This fall, 14 total students enrolled in the program which ran twice weekly for 80 minutes per session.

The framework for the program came from the JUMP math curriculum developed in Toronto, CA by John Mighton. Through this, students were allowed to work at their own pace, particularly when working one-on-one to learn basic numeracy concepts. As a result of the tutorial sessions, students who took several “Show What You Know” assessments at the end of each meeting showed a 26 percent improvement overall.

A consistent student recognition policy was put into place in which students tracked their own growth on charts and were given positive points by tutors. Additionally, awards were distributed to each participating student on the last day of the program

On the final survey, almost every student marked tutors in all categories as above or exceedingly above average. One participant discovered a passion for challenges, saying, “My favorite part is when I get a hard question. That is my favorite part.” 

Tutors also felt the impact of tutorial sessions, learning from their students in the process. At the end of the semester, one tutor discussed, “I think the biggest impact was explaining why it’s important to work hard and go to college.”

Boston International Newcomers Academy BINCA FALL 2016

This past semester, Tutors for All and the Boston International Newcomers Academy unveiled our first collaborative program ever! This program emphasized working with students within Boston International High School’s segment of the academy, providing in-classroom assistance to teachers with large classes

On several occasions, tutors with advanced skills in high-need languages were able to provide assistance in Newcomers Academy classes. In total, five T4A tutors offered support to a total of nine instructors in 20 different classes.

A massive thank you to all of our Fall 2016 tutors, and congratulations to their students!

Spring Report: SquashBusters

If you’ve been following Tutors for All for the past ten years, you’ve noticed that students participating in our partnership programs tend to gain about a year in math and literacy. This past spring semester one of our most recent programs, SquashBusters, concluded for the summer and we are thrilled to share with you our program results!

SquashBusters and T4A began their partnership the fall of 2015 by offering 8th graders academic support in math and literacy. Before initiating any tutorials, T4A conducts a set of preliminary exams that helps establish foundation for our students growth in math and literacy, which could then be measured later on with a final assessment. The GRADE tests students in reading comprehension and vocabulary, while the GMADE tests students in three areas; Concepts and Communications, Operations and Computation, and Processes and Applications. Students in the 8th grade are expected to have scores at 8.0 or above.

After reviewing the set of preliminary exams, the average score on the GMADE test was 6.73, with five out of 24 students scoring above grade level. The GRADE test results reflected a much higher proficiency rating, with 15 out of 25 students scoring at or above grade level and the average score being 9.59.

25

Students were given the choice to pick the subject they wanted to study, regardless of their preliminary score. In just the first semester, there was an average .50 increase in test scores for students studying Math and an average 1.50 increase in test scores for students studying reading compared to their preliminary exam.

The second semester displayed an even more impressive growth. Students who took the GMADE test had an average increase of 1.05 and students who took the GRADE test had an average increase of 2.05 in their test scores.

The chart below displays the average test scores from students who continued in a particular subject throughout the year. As pictured below, the average growth overall for both exams increased making T4A extremely happy to see our mission come to life by bridging the gap one student at a time!

26

In order to provide the most accurate data, we excluded
students who changed subjects during the spring semester
and also students who scored the maximum in each test.

Stay posted to see results from our other spring programs!

Victory is Ours!

It was 4:00pm, the sun was as resilient as ever, and Kickball for All was entering its Semi-Final Championship game. After a few rounds of elimination, only the Final Four would continue: Saved by the Ball, Team Big Green, Young Kickers (combination of Young Bloods + Just for Kicks) and #dabnation. As the teams gathered around and talked over strategies, the big question still remained, who would win it all?

Semi-Final Round 1: #dabnation v Young Kickers
13403841_1121390657926059_7406228577378445679_oThe score was tied and the end of the second round was approaching. The audience was on their feet, who would kick the winning point? Only one team would make it to the championship game and it all came down to a tie breaker rock, paper, scissors battle. Jordy Baez from #dabnation and Chris(not the correct name) from the Young Kickers approached each other at home base, both with a look of determination. Rock. Paper. Scissors. #Dabnations strategic move to play scissors took them to the championship game making this one of the most memorable wins in Kickball for All history!

Semi-Finals Roun2: Team Big Green v Saved by the Ball
It was the ultimate Tutors for All face-off. Stephanie Park vs Joseph Alvarez; could Tutors for All remain the same after this game? It was a close match. Both teams were determined to win. In the last stretch, Saved by the Ball kicks the winning ball, which sent them running into the Championship game.

Championship: #dabnation v Saved by the Ball13320736_1118129774918814_4614197738143973451_o
The moment we have all been waiting for: the Kickball for All Championship game. This was the moment every team had been training for. (Insert highlight of championship game here). Richard Wilson, captain of #dabnation, coached his team into victory. From the sidelines, he motivated them to keep pushing and their hard work paid off! Mark Destler was even made an honorary member of their team as he acted out their signature move, the dab. A picture is truly worth a thousand words.

13392187_1118129778252147_795189637847722141_oShout out to all the teams who came out to support such an amazing cause. We are all winners, we were able to surpass our goal of $15,000, raising enough money to provide more than 1,500 hours of tutoring to Boston Students. A thousands thanks to everyone, we hope to see you all again again next year at K4A 2017!

Thank you for your support!

programWe would like to take the time to thank all of our sponsors. Without their support, Kickball For All wouldn’t have been possible.This year, we were able to double our donations and raised over $15,000, which will provide 1,500 hours of tutoring for students in Boston! #BridgeTheGap

A special thanks to Anna’s Taqueria for providing their delicious burritos and Insomnia Cookies for their scrumptious cookies (which were gone in seconds). Let’s not forget JP Licks for their generous contribution of ice cream and Vita Coco for the much needed refreshing drinks. Most importantly, thank you to all the Tutor for All fans that came out to support, Kickball for All was a success thanks to all of you!

#KickballforAll

Kickball for All is happening June 4th at the Boston Commons Little League Field, and the competition is fierce!  We caught up with some of our team captains to hear what they had to say.

Luisa Baginski and the Amazing Blue Cats
sporty2The photo is a team shot from the very first Kickball for All, where my team from Boston Academy of English (BAE) took the field as “Ballsy Athletic Educators”, and were ignominiously renamed as ‘Teachers With Balls’ by our esteemed leader in the heat of the mc-ing moment. Thanks for that Mark.

I have as much general athletic ability as a geriatric toad, and only for this will I take to the field. I am, however, extremely competitive and “determined”, as I like to think of myself. The word “stubborn” has also been used. So, please do prepare yourself for the bitter taste of defeat because this year that shiny trophy is MINE!

In all seriousness though, I do believe 100% in the work that we do here at Tutors for All, and it’s importance in so many people’s lives. It’s easy to forget when we are face with such huge, insurmountable-seeming problems as inequality, poverty, the achievement gap, that living through these problems are real human individuals, children. The work we do allows us the privilege of reaching those individuals, helping them change their personal story, and knowing the faces and the names behind the numbers. The numbers are impressive, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the names, the real people whose lives we touch, that we do this for. That’s who we are playing for on June 4th, and who we really want to win.

Bring it on people!

Francis Pina and the Kickball for All Warriors (co-captained by Soriya Peng)
62891_549226518978_7403010_n-2

“Kickball is more than kicking a ball, it is an opportunity to overcome past failure!; Failure like the time I missed the frisbee 6 years ago; Failure like the time I missed tossing a paperball in the trash 6 hours ago; Failure like the time I mispelled the word misspelled 6 words ago. Now let’s kick some ball!”

 

 

Mark Destler and the Oldies but Goodies
MDcatch2My name is Mark Destler, and I am the Executive Director of Tutors for All.  I have had the privilege of working with Boston-area kids for the better part of the last 25 years, and Boston youth for the last fifteen.  I’ve been a special education paraprofessional, an English and reading teacher, a special education teacher, and a school administrator (dean, special education, title I).

Ten years ago, I started Tutors for All because I saw first-hand the power of 1-1 tutoring to transform the lives of Boston kids.  Here are some of the things that our (mostly undergraduate) tutors and kids have accomplished over the past ten years.  Here are some of the reasons our programs have been so successful.   Many of you have played a role in their success to date.  Thank you for your leadership in supporting them now.

I am a kickball legend, at least in my own mind.  I remember (foggily, it was almost 40 years ago) running with a crew of four serious kickball-ers in first grade: Susan, Kristen, Jennifer, and myself.   I remember (less foggily) flashing some serious skills on the diamond two years ago.

That being said, I’ve yet to win a K4A trophy.  It’s about time!

Andy Stewart and the Test Takers (co-captained by Bryan Potts and Shane Magner)

10353637_10204989577244384_9103918179649976339_nBe prepared to choose between defeat and injuring a child.  Know that parents are watching.  Including me, you over-competitive jerk.

 

 

 

 

Kate Farrell and the Tobin Tigers
IMG_2074-e1443473642801My name is Kate and I am the captain for the Team Tobin Tigers this year!  This is my first year working for Tutors for All as a Program Manager and participating in Kickball for All.  I unfortunately do not have any sporty pictures of me to share, but hopefully some great ones will be captured on June 4th :)…but I would like to share what T4A means to me, as well as, the great American pastime of Kickball….I am a veteran ten year educator who has spent her career dedicated to serving students in under served communities.  I witnessed first hand the brutal struggle of students who could not pass the Math MCAS and yet had completed their graduation requirements, so therefore having to come back until they could pass the test.  When I applied for the position back in September I felt such gratitude that a program like this exists that supports teachers by helping students who might otherwise fall through the cracks in a large classroom, and prepare them to pass a test that could keep them from moving on to the next chapter of their life.  After running two semesters now of tutoring services for T4A it is truly a wonderful feeling to be helping students fill the holes of their knowledge, increase their confidence, and have the skills needed to pass!  I hope to be a part of the expansion of T4A to other Massachusetts cities where there are also students who are in the same battle!

As for kickball, my love for this great sport runs deep and back to my childhood.  The dusty little league baseball diamond behind my elementary school became the arena of many great moments of glory and victory.  No matter what skill level we had for some reason it seemed like everyone in my class could  meet on that field and play some kickball.  It would be competitive and yet fun.  There would be serious intentions and yet a lot of laughter.  And now as an adult playing kickball is like flying in a time machine back to my childhood, and I feel this may be true for many of us as this game seems to be the staple in the memories of many Americans and perhaps humans in generals.

Looking forward to playing with y’all on the 4th and hopefully holding one of those amazing trophies!  Go Team Tobin Tigers!

Richard Wilson and #dabnation

IScreenshot_20160524-182423 haven’t played kickball in 7 years,  but I have assembled the most passionate, motivated, inspiring, and charitable group of people. We can’t wait to get out there and show exactly that.

 

 

 

 

 

Kickball for All Spotlight: Andy Stewart

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 9.56.25 AMAndy Stewart was one of the original T4A staff members who helped create Kickball for All in 2011; he’s played in K4A tournaments ever since. In 2014 he became a team captain, and his team The Test Takers took home the winner’s trophy. Although he has since moved back to his home state in Michigan, Andy travels back to Boston every year to take part in our kickball tournament – the true definition of a “team player”! He shared with us the origins of K4A, advice for new players, and his predictions for this year’s winners.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan and moved to Boston with my wife in 2004. When we came to Boston, I found a job at Codman Academy as the Technology Director. I have always had an interest in technology – however, I knew this wasn’t something I wanted to do long term. I decided to make a career shift to Investment Management, so in 2009, I graduated from Boston College with a degree in Finance. I remained heavily involved with Codman Academy, which allowed me to meet Mark when he began to run tutorial at the school in 2008. He was aware of my new career path, and in 2010, I was hired as the Director of Finance and Operations for Tutors for All. Despite having since moved back to Michigan with my family, my dedication to Tutors for All has not diminished, and the organization will forever be an important part of my life.

Since you’ve been a part of K4A from the beginning, I have to ask- why kickball? Why not some other sport?

Kickball is a sport that most people know the general rules. Unlike baseball or football, it’s easy to explain and doesn’t require intense practicing and training. You have to admit, pitching a kickball is much easier than pitching a baseball. Because the sport is so inclusive, we thought it would be perfect for our event!

What is your favorite part about the event?

Each year when I know it’s almost time for Kickball for All, I immediately start looking forward to seeing Mark and the rest of my old co-workers. It’s always nice to catch up with them since I don’t get to see them often. I love watching the crowd of people grow each year as more people get involved with Tutors for All.

Is there anything you would recommend to people thinking about playing this year?

There are two things: the first thing I always tell people is that they shouldn’t worry too much about the mechanics of kickball. It doesn’t matter how well you play or if you’re inexperienced. The important thing is that you have fun, meet people, eat food and learn about the organization.

The second is that it’s always good to have different kinds of people at the event, especially former students who have experienced our programs first-hand. I like to encourage former and current students to attend the event, though many feel like they won’t be able to raise enough of money. In those situations, I tell students that any donation is helpful, and that the important thing is to have fun, meet people, and spread awareness about Tutors for All.

What has been the key to your success when it comes to raising so much money for this event?

It’s beneficial when you have co-captains who are actively helping you raise a team goal. In the past, Bryan Potts, Shane Magner and I co-captained a team called The Test Takers, and together we raised more money than we would have individually. When trying to get donations, I seek help from my parents, in-laws, relatives, friends and co-workers. I have built a strong networking platform where I’m able to send over 50 emails, and if half of those people donate then it’s a success. I’m often able to get large donations from my business contacts, and all of the small donations I receive from others start to add up.Then before you know it, I’ve reached my goal! I would rather have 1,000 people giving $10 than have 1 person giving $1,000. Being able to spread the word about Tutors for All is an essential part of Kickball for All.

Lastly, which team do you think is going to win Kickball for All 2016?

Well to be honest, last year I didn’t think we were going to win. It ultimately came down to the last five minutes when I was able to raise a couple of hundred dollars by asking people on the field to donate. This year, I know it’s going to come down to Mark and I (unless Bob Hornstein comes from left field). But my team will still win.