Noel, 9, will now attend the fourth grade at Garrison Elementary. During the last school year, he was in the Tuesday Night Reading tutoring program as well as the Thursday Night Math tutoring program.
Noel’s favorite subject in school is math. He says it is his favorite because of how much FLOC has helped him with it. Outside of school and FLOC, Noel likes to play basketball with his friends and relax.
Coming in and doing math and learning to read with his tutor Katherine are Noel’s favorite activities at FLOC. Noel says that FLOC has helped him “do better in his reading and math classes at school.” Noel told me that he wants to do better in all of his classes this year.
Noel likes to joke around with his fellow students and the staff at FLOC. He has a great sense of humor. When I interviewed him, he said he didn’t want his picture taken because he didn’t style his hair right that day.
Noel enjoys learning by playing games while tutoring. He says it helps him “have fun while learning.” Noel hopes to be a head chef one day. When I asked him what he wanted to cook, he replied “I’m not sure, but it will be something good.”
(Benjamin Harris is a tutor in the Thursday Night Math program at FLOC).
If you attended this year’s annual Recognition Event and Empower Awards, you might remember learning of Foday’s hard work navigating the reading curriculum and the impressive growth he has shown. Or maybe you joined us at the 2014 Fred Taylor Scholarship Fund Dinner where you witnessed Foday’s sister get emotional upon hearing her brother’s surprise voiceover sharing how proud he was of her. I believe that in both these special moments and the everyday interactions, Foday shows us that his story is only just beginning…
For five weeks this summer, Foday participated in the high school Tell Your Story Writing Workshop Series, where he and his peers learned how to be their own best advocate through self-reflection, written expression, and storytelling. Foday is one of the quieter students in the bunch, but he showed up each and every week, ready to engage with the material and speakers and take full advantage of the opportunities to explore, write, and share his personal story.
The very first week, Joseph Price from the nonprofit organization, SpeakeasyDC, came to FLOC to provide the students with an introduction to the art of storytelling. Joe paired himself with Foday for the peer interview activity to find out the story behind his reserved demeanor. Foday talked for 10 minutes – no interruptions – and when the activity ended, Joe said to me “Foday has a great story. I hope he writes about it next week.” And when I checked in with Foday at the end of the night, he said he really enjoyed learning about “the different ways you could tell a story” and he felt “excited about the upcoming weeks of the workshop series.”
As weeks two, three, and four passed, Foday continually exemplified active listening and opened up during peer interviews. And when it came time to write, he was in his element. His quiet confidence radiated as he wrote stories about his past, present, and future. When week five finally rolled around, I couldn’t wait to see how Foday decided to reveal his final writing piece. Turns out, Foday connected his stories to form one and chose to share his work on this very blog.
I hope you will find Foday’s story below as impressive and inspiring as I do. He’s ‘going places’ and FLOC will be with him every step of the way.
“My Story” – as told by Foday
Growing up in a family of seven has been the best thing in my life. As a kid, my three sisters and I lived in a big house in Sierra Leone. Being the only boy in the family wasn’t easy; I always did things by myself even though sometimes I needed help. My parents depended on me the most and I also had to work harder. But no matter what, I wanted to do things successfully.
In the future, I have decided I want to work hard to help people in need. My family and my community motivate me to be successful. Seeing other families losing their loved ones due to incurable diseases or not being able to pay medical bills makes me very sad. If I can help my community and other people it would be a great benefit to others and I would feel fulfilled.
(Jessie Garrett is a Scholars Program Instructor at FLOC).