(Addie Ludwig is an intern in FLOC’s Recruitment and Outreach Department. She tutored at FLOC over the summer.)
Tutors usually charge anywhere from $20 to $100 an hour, but not at FLOC. Dozens of regular people from all walks of life sit down once a week, one-on-one with a kid and teach for free. Honing in on each child’s individual strengths and weaknesses, they attempt to strengthen fundamental skills and provide a solid foundation for later education. It’s not super specialized, and it’s not hard to train for it. Here they just try to color in all the blank spots so that the kids can see the bigger picture.
I am a proud survivor of the DC Public School system (K-12), and was interested to see people working to help DCPS kids from outside of the boundaries of the schools themselves. I had a mixed bag experience with DCPS, as many have; I attended the prestigious, public Horace Mann Elementary and enjoyed a fantastic, hands-on early education that provided a solid foundation for what would prove to be a slightly spotty education later on.
I got involved with FLOC early last summer partially out of curiosity and partially from a desire to learn how to interact with children, something I don’t have extensive experience with and I’ve never been particularly good at. I feared the worst – being unable to command the attention of a hyper child, confirming my fear that I am terrible with kids. As it turned out, I was placed with an extraordinarily bright and well-behaved girl who came to tutoring excited to learn and receptive to everything I had to say. In the end, it’s safe to say that she ended up helping me.
When I got started at FLOC, I remember being concerned that I would encounter some of the condescension in situations where the disadvantaged are assisted by the (more) privileged. I can gladly say that there is none of that here; everyone genuinely cares about the kids. They’re passionate and work tirelessly in both tutoring and behind the scenes to close the learning gaps that the shortfalls of regular schooling create on a regular basis.
The statistics speak for themselves – the program works. FLOC has formed a highly functional safety net that aims to and regularly succeeds in catching the kids that fall through those cracks that are not few or far in between. And it’s free. What more could you ask for?