Samuel Belkin serves as a tutor in the Thursday night math program here at FLOC. In this role, he works one on one with a ninth grade student named Yasmine, providing assistance to help improve her math skills.
After working 30 years as a federal employee with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Samuel was interested in exploring some options for “post-retirement” activities. He had always enjoyed helping his kids with their math homework, so in June of 2014, he decided to see if he liked tutoring. On the D.C. Public school system website, he found FLOC on a list of organizations that provide tutoring services within the DC area.
Samuel did some homework and found that FLOC checked out as a well-reviewed local charity, so he sent off an email asking whether FLOC still needed another math tutor to help out for the summer. In his words: “The response was quick – ‘YES,’ followed by a supportive and reassuring welcome message. I went for orientation and was all set to begin.”
Soon after orientation and training, Samuel was paired up with Yasmine, a delightfully friendly and hardworking young student. When they first met in summer 2014, she was getting ready to start high school with the expressed desire to become a veterinarian. After some brief introductions and “handshaking” lessons (essentially, says Samuel, the same lessons he learned from his grandmother at the tender age of 13) they set to work.
Samuel finds the experience of tutoring math not only a big change from his profession as an optometrist, but amazingly fulfilling. Yasmine has made amazing improvements in her multiplication and division skills since the summer. Yasmine’s first time taking a multiplication test called the “Product Test” took almost 8 minutes to complete. Now she can complete it in about 1.5 minutes; they are aiming to be under 1 minute by the end of the semester. Samuel is extremely satisfied with the great progress his student has made since last July.
Additionally, Samuel learned new things as well. He learned a new way to multiply (called the lattice method multiplication). Working with FLOC has been a great source of joy for Samuel from the beginning, and he hopes to be able to continue providing tutoring assistance for students in the future.
(Vanessa Hanible is the Recruitment and Outreach Associate.)