News, Tutor Spotlight, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Judith Blagrove


Judith first heard about FLOC while she was at her work at a bank, and a customer asked to have her FLOC background check forms notarized. After talking with her for a while, Judith could notice her excitement to work with FLOC students. The positive feedback from someone who was already a volunteer at FLOC made a great impression so she decided to visit FLOC’s website. “I was also impressed with the success stories that were featured on the website, so I completed an application.”

Judith joined FLOC as a tutor in February 2013. Since then she has had numerous great experiences with the students and the staff. “The staff is wonderful and the whole atmosphere is welcoming and full of learning that involves ‘play’ which is very essential,” Judith adds. Her favorite moments at FLOC with her students are “seeing the expressions on their faces after they receive that sheet of paper indicating that they have passed their tests. That is priceless.”

She currently tutors at the Tuesday Night Reading and the Thursday Night Math programs. Each Tuesday and Thursday, Judith goes home “with such a sense of accomplishment that my regular job so often fails to provide.”

Since Judith began to tutor at FLOC, her view towards life has changed. Being at FLOC has convinced her that things of importance and relevance are priceless.  “As a volunteer I am providing my students with academic help that is so meaningful yet carries no price tag.”

When Judith was growing up she also received help from individuals who dedicated their time and effort to assist in her academics. Both of the students that Judith tutors at FLOC are as grateful as she was, and they show respect in every session.

Every Tuesday she tutors Yoanabel, a 4th grader who is “very intelligent, is always willing to learn new things, and uses the information covered to introduce what she knows or build on what she already knows.”

On Thursdays she tutors Esteban, a high school student who is very dedicated to the program despite the numerous classes that he takes each day. Although Esteban is very quiet, they have bonded a lot during program. Besides working on his math skills, Esteban and Judith take some time to discuss his day at school and play his favorite game, UNO.

Judith’s experience at FLOC “is one that has really made me feel like I am touching someone’s life in a meaningful way.  I am being motivated to dedicate more time and energy into working with students as it is so rewarding and essential.”

(Lisvette García is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Associate at FLOC).

News, Tutor Spotlight, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Jessica Call

Jessica - tutor Oct 2013-edited

For Jessica, being a tutor is nothing new, as she previously volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club of her hometown in Kentucky.  While there, Jessica read to the kids using materials that she borrowed from her mom, who was a reading teacher and always instilled in her the importance of education.

After learning about the District of Columbia’s low high school graduation rate, Jessica decided to look for programs in which she could give a hand to improve the situation.  That is how she came across FLOC.  “There are too many children in DC who don’t get the educational opportunities or support they deserve; FLOC has a good program for addressing this problem and I’d like to help contribute,” Jessica said.

Since Jessica started volunteering in the Saturday Afternoon Reading Program in early October, she has been helping Christina – a “very sweet and fun” girl who “works hard in the lessons and really likes to draw.”  Every Saturday, Jessica tutors Christina for two hours to help improve her reading skills.

When asked to share a memorable experience she has had thus far while tutoring, Jessica said she felt very proud “when Christina passed the first test and said that it was easy.”  For Jessica, having a curriculum to follow has been very helpful as it “gives more structure.”  Jessica added that she is “really impressed with FLOC and the help they provide to the kids and I am glad to be a part of it.”

Another attribute that makes tutoring at FLOC a unique experience for Jessica is seeing how engaged FLOC parents are.  After the tutoring session is done, Jessica occasionally talks with Christina’s parents about how the lesson went.  Jessica really values chatting with Christina’s parents as she considers that the parent involvement plays an important role in determining a student’s success.

At FLOC we are very happy to have Jessica with us this school year.  We thank all of the tutors that, like Jessica, invest their time and dedication to help us make a difference in the lives of our students.

(Lisvette García is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Associate at FLOC).

Tutor Spotlight, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet FLOC Tutor Emma Turnbull

Emma and Fab

It is easy to see why FLOC students and staff members like Emma Turnbull.  The 19-year-old work-study tutor was bright-eyed and cheery when we met for our interview; some would say especially so, given the fact that she had just spent her whole Saturday tutoring in our math and reading programs.

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Emma moved to DC last year to become a pre-med student at The George Washington University.  She began tutoring at FLOC when she was a freshman because it was really important to her not to have a “typical” work-study job.  Instead, she wanted to give back to her community and work with kids, and when she found out that FLOC’s schedule worked well with hers, she knew it was a great fit.

This year, Emma is a tutor in three of our programs: Thursday Night Math, Saturday Morning Math, and Saturday Afternoon Reading.  When I met her, she was with her Saturday Afternoon Reading student, Fabiola.  Later Emma told me, “I work with Fabiola on her reading – we call her Fab.  She has one of the best attitudes I have ever seen in a student and she’s always willing to give 110%.”  This was evident when I went to take a picture of the two of them and Fabiola hardly looked up from the book she was reading out loud.

Emma enjoys getting creative with her lesson plans and games, especially when she finds a game that “really clicks” with one of her students.  For example, she says that the student she tutors on Thursdays is very active, so they play “Red Light, Green Light” with flashcards so she can run around.  Her Saturday morning student, on the other hand, is quite artistic and loves to draw, so Emma always tries to incorporate drawing into his lesson plans.

In her free time, Emma likes to get out of what she calls the “Foggy Bottom bubble” and explore other places in DC.  She sees FLOC’s location in Adams Morgan as a positive, because it encourages her to discover a new area.  In fact, as we wrapped up the interview she informed me that she was going with a couple of friends to try out a cupcake place just a few blocks away.  To me, a cupcake seemed like a well-deserved end to Emma’s day.  We are extremely lucky to have such a committed, imaginative and enthusiastic tutor in our organization.

(Rachel Baxter is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Assistant at FLOC).

Tutor Spotlight, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Mamie

Since October, tutor Mamie Belle has spent her Saturday mornings in FLOC’s math program working with Xochitl, a 3rd grader Mamie describes as a bright student who is a bit behind grade level in math.

“She’s fun to work with, and completely dominates in multiplication tic tac toe,” Belle said. “I think I’ve won maybe 5% of those games.”

Because she strives to be creative throughout the tutoring session to help Xochitl better master a new skill, Mamie makes sure the tutoring session includes a variety of activities. They typically begin the lesson with a game like flashcard war, where the player who draws the card with the higher product of both multiplication problems wins all the cards drawn from both players’ decks. Then, they move onto a review of the material they covered the previous week. After the warm up activity and review, Mamie moves on to teaching a new concept.

Like many FLOC tutors, Mamie focuses on teaching new material by using the math manual as a guide and incorporating games to help reinforce the concepts.

In college, Mamie tutored a high school student in various subjects. One of the difficulties she’s encountered at FLOC is finding “different ways of explaining a process.”

She especially praised the programs at FLOC for two reasons. “The math manuals for the students and the tutor training that FLOC provides help take a lot of the guesswork out of the process.”

“There are always situations that challenge you to come up with creative and fun ways to help the student master a skill,” she added.

Mamie describes her tutoring experience as very rewarding, since she’s had the opportunity to feel connected to the community and give back. “I don’t have the chance to interact with kids during my 9-5, so tutoring through FLOC is a great way to fill that void.”

News, Tutor Spotlight, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Dennis

A year and a half ago, Dennis Sellin decided that he “wanted to give something back.”

Dennis got that chance shortly after when he came across a FLOC flyer at the gym. He said it sounded “perfect” and exactly what he hoped to do, so last summer he became a tutor in the Summer Reading Program.

“It’s not a secret that the District of Columbia struggles with education, especially childhood education, and I knew that was an area where there was a need for some volunteer work,” he said.

Dennis is quite fond of reading, which is one of the reasons he chose to volunteer with FLOC. His student, Davon, is a 9th grader who at first didn’t express the same enthusiasm for reading. Davon used to tell him “I don’t like to read,” but Dennis has seen him change his mind. Now, Davon looks forward to reading a book at the end of the lesson, and he completely understands what he’s reading—a crucial step in the right direction.

“I’ve been really happy to hear that his academic performance in school has improved a lot, and it would be nice to think that some of that is due to FLOC,” he said.

Before FLOC, Dennis had zero experience as a tutor. Though at first he worried if he would click with the students and be able to relate to them, he now has different concerns. He doesn’t want to be boring; he strives to be interactive, creative and flexible throughout the lesson.

He especially stresses making the lesson fun. “You have to remember [that these students] have been in school all day and then they come here. It’s a long day.”

Dennis likes that he tutors at an organization that is doing good in the community and making a difference where it counts.

“Every single week you make a small advance,” Dennis says. “You watch them progress through the lessons and you have to believe that you’re having an impact.”

Dennis has had the chance to attend a few FLOC events and hear from principals, parents, and a few former FLOC students who are now in college. “That’s the payback. If I can help a little bit, doing something I love, why not?”

Tutor Spotlight, Volunteer Spotlight

Tutor Spotlight: Alisa Wilson

(FLOC is recognizing outstanding tutors who have shown enthusiasm and commitment to their student(s) in a series of articles called “Tutor Spotlight.”)

On Saturday mornings, most people like to sleep in – but not Alisa Wilson.

Like many For Love of Children volunteers, she dedicates her time to tutoring. As a former mentor and girls’ basketball coach, she came to FLOC last fall after realizing that helping youth continues to be a big part of her life.

Alisa calls her tutoring experience at Randle Highlands Elementary, located in Southeast DC, satisfying and challenging – more challenging than she expected.

“The longer you’re here, the more you want your student to succeed,” she says. “It’s really fun to develop a relationship with my student. They let you into their life.”

While in college, Alisa tutored middle school students and recognized the value in going beyond their class work to understand math and reading concepts. Some math problems were difficult for her student, Donald, so she decided to try flash cards and found that repetition was helpful in improving those skills.

When Alisa learned that Donald was interested in black holes, she tailored the reading to meet this particular interest and asked him to read an article about the basic science of the phenomenon.

This is just one example of how Donald has learned a lot from Alisa, who has also learned a few things from him in the process.

“He’s taught me patience, to be more laid back and go with the flow, and that you can’t have an exact plan for life,” she says.

“Knowing that Donald is excited to see me every week – that gets me there. It’s all about brightening your student’s day.”

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Tutor Spotlight

Tutor Spotlight: Peyton Ware, In His Own Words

(FLOC is recognizing outstanding tutors who have shown enthusiasm and commitment to their student(s) in a series of articles called “Tutor Spotlight.” Peyton is a tutor in the Saturday Morning program.)

I started tutoring because I wanted to give back to my community; I think kids are amazing (usually much cooler than adults); and I thought it would be something that my love of reading and writing would be helpful with.

Also, I think each of us, and especially myself, can recall teachers that really changed the way we view the world, or motivated us to improve ourselves, and those teachers were an inspiration for me to start going to For Love of Children (FLOC).

As for FLOC itself – I love FLOC. The staff has been very helpful. It’s interesting because the first student I had was very challenging, and the first coordinator I had (Lana) is now one of my current coordinators, and she keeps giving me helpful hints or encouragement for how to best tutor.

As for the students themselves, I have learned a lot from them, and the key for me is to always have a positive attitude. Every kid I have had, at heart, just wants to be liked and impress me. The biggest challenge is that kids will hide whatever they don’t know to impress me, or to avoid areas that might be difficult. Also, patience is extremely important.

Sometimes it may not seem like the student is really picking up that much, but I have learned that encouragement and showing interest in reading/math can really go a long way. For example, with my current student, Papa, I think showing an interest in his reading and encouraging him to write is extremely important.