The day was cloudy and gray, but once we arrived at Tubman Elementary School I felt like everything had brightened up. The blue and green hallways were covered by colorful drawings and art pieces made by students. In a few minutes, the kids got out of class and walked down the hallway with their teachers.
In front of the art classroom, where FLOC program takes place, there was a colorful poster that read “Today is a great day to learn something new.” As I was reading this, I wondered “what new thing will I learn?” Soon, the students and tutors arrived to start the FLOC reading program.
There were a few new tutors reviewing the lesson materials and getting ready to start. They looked excited to meet their students. Before the start of the program, the students had fun playing Connect Four, Mancala and other games.
Franklin, a first grade student, was playing while the other students started the tutoring session. Since his tutor was absent, one of the new tutors volunteered to work with him for the day because her student was also absent.
It was interesting to see the dynamic between a new tutor and a student that has been attending FLOC program since fall. The new tutor looked for ways to keep him engaged and motivated to complete the exercises. They were playing games to practice Franklin’s phonic and spelling skills.
After a while, they took some time to have a snack and talk in the hallway. To continue practicing, Franklin had to read aloud every name that was written under the drawings of elephants that were hanging on the wall. He recognized some of the names and told his tutor that the students who made the drawings were his friends. It was clear they were both happy to work with each other for the day.
This was the first time I have visited FLOC program at Tubman Elementary. The program is small compared to the other programs at FLOC but it also has tutors and students who are committed to succeed. Both staff members assigned to the program, Queen and Ibsaa, show attention to the children and their tutors. They take their time to help them, answer their questions and make them feel welcome.
At the end of my visit, I thought about the quote on the poster in front of the art classroom. Spending a few hours at Tubman reminded me of the importance of having FLOC programs at the schools because it enables more kids like Franklin to receive the academic help and one-on-one attention they need.
(Lisvette García is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Associate at FLOC).