GW Interns/Tutors, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Tom and Jess: Tutors & Team Leaders

For nearly 20 years, FLOC has had an invaluable partnership with George Washington University’s DC Reads program, a program of the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service. Through this partnership, GW students (both volunteers and federal work study employees) are placed as tutors in nonprofits like FLOC. This year,  more than 30 GW DC Reads tutors are placed at FLOC.

Tom Guettler and Jess Williams are serving this year as team leaders for FLOC through the DC Reads program, and they both tutor reading at FLOC during the week.

Tom and Jess

How did you first become involved with For Love of Children?

Tom: I first heard about FLOC through Community Building Community, which is a pre-orientation program for freshman at GW. FLOC sounded like a great way to get involved in the DC community, and some of the guides had great things to say about DC reads as a whole!

Jess: I was looking for a way to get involved in community service when I came to GW, and some friends told me about DC Reads! From there, I chose to work with FLOC, because I was shocked that a city as educated as Washington, DC still has such a high illiteracy rate among children.

What does being a DC Reads Team Leader entail? What do you enjoy about it?

Tom: Generally speaking, we help promote FLOC and generate student interest. Jess and I are also here to be a resource for the GW students who work at FLOC. We help students with their federal work-study arrangements, rescheduling trainings, and facilitate contacting the FLOC office.

Jess: I really enjoy being a resource for students, and having people come to me for help! As coordinators, we also host events within the GW FLOC community. We’ll have movie nights where we share food and watch an educational film, and recently we had a reflection event. Students brought food, and we spent the afternoon discussing out tutoring experiences and sharing stories.

Speaking of reflection, do you have a favorite FLOC memory?

Tom: Last winter, my schedule changed and I wasn’t going to be able to tutor the same student anymore. After I had told both my student and site-coordinator, I ended up changing classes, and was able to return on the same day the following semester. My student was expecting to have a new tutor, and he was excited when I showed up! The coordinator had not told him I was returning, and it meant a lot to know that he cared about having me as a tutor, specifically.

Jess: My story is similar! Last year, I was explaining to my student that I had to go home for summer break. She became a little upset, and repeatedly said she would miss me, asking why I had to leave. I hadn’t realized how close we had become in such a short amount of time, but it meant a lot that she cared whether or not I was there.

Imagine you have sixty seconds to convince someone to tutor with FLOC. What do you say?

Tom: Do it! Tutoring with FLOC has changed the preconceived notions I had about non-profits–FLOC is well-organized, easy to work with, and makes a tangible impact. Tutoring is a wonderful way to give back to the community, and you grow as a person as well.

Jess: Tutoring with FLOC is an excellent way to get out of the “Foggy Bottom bubble,” that you so often hear about here. There is so much more to DC than our neighborhood, and I’m proud to say that I’m invested here. I feel as though I’ve become a citizen of DC, not just a student.

(Samantha Bailey is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator at FLOC.)

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Neighborhood Tutoring Program

Yet Another Summer Reading List

Hey FLOC community! Today, we’re kicking off our summer learning academies with the first day of summer reading tutoring. We’ve learned that summer learning and summer reading are incredibly important for our students, but it’s a great time for adults to do some reading, too. Don’t let summer go by without picking up at least a few new good books. Here is a list of interesting reads that are sure to get you through the summer.

unlikely eventIn the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

In the Unlikely Event is iconic author Judy Blume’s highly anticipated first novel for adults in over 15 years. Set in New Jersey where Blume witnessed a bizarre series of plane crashes during her childhood, In the Unlikely Event is an imaginative story spanning three generations of characters, and a charming portrait of the mid-20th century. go set a watchman

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee’s follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird, and one of the most anticipated books this summer. Set in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman follows the beloved characters from To Kill a Mockingbird as they struggle with both personal and political problems two decades later.

girl on trainThe Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

A psychological thriller about a girl named Rachel who witnesses a shocking event which inserts her into the lives of strangers. The book is a real page-turner with lots of twists, amplified by the shifting perspectives of the three main characters. Hard to put down!

Mr. Penumbra’s 24–Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloanpenumbra

When an ancient mythical fantasy world meets high–tech Google. An eccentric bookstore tucked away in San Francisco proves that magic can still exist in the digital world. For: booklovers who cherish a manual typewriter as much as their iPad

Woman With a Secret’ by Sophie Hannahwoman with secret If you’re looking for your next addictive thriller, meet Sophie Hannah and her character Nicki Clements. (Guess what: Nicki has a secret!) Skilled suspense-writer Hannah will sweep you into Nicki’s world — and you won’t want to get out until you’ve reached the very last page. Good luck to anyone trying to pry this one from your hands.

Infinite Home by Kathleen Alcottinfinite home

If you’re away from where you live and the people you love this summer, your required reading is Infinite Home, which gets at the heart of what the word “home” is about — both in terms of the physical place and the feeling. You’ll read about Brooklyn landlord Edith and her tenants, and what they when their home is threatened. Prepare to be moved, because this one will reach deep inside of you.

martianThe Martian by Andy Weir

This is the story of funny, smart, and incredibly resourceful astronaut Mark Watney who gets stranded on Mars. You will not be able to put this book down, which makes it perfect summer reading to me. The movie comes out in November, which is another reason to pick this up this summer.  

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón shadow of hte wind

This is a such a unique narrative about a young boy, Daniel, who finds a book he loves and sets out to track down the author. But he soon finds that someone else is also hunting the same books — in order to destroy them. The Shadow of the Wind becomes an adventure that Daniel could never have dreamed of, introducing him to characters both wonderful and terrifying along the way. This book is splendidly written — and incredibly quotable too!

(Queen Travers is the Program Coordinator for the Neighborhood Tutoring Program.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News

Spring Successes in Saturday Reading

Spring is definitely a busy time here at FLOC. Within the past couple of weeks, we’ve had several new students and tutors start during our Saturday PM Reading Program. Students are starting and finishing new chapter books each week. This past week, Maniyah and her tutor finished reading The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Additionally, I’ve been impressed by how much our students have been testing. Testing is one of the ways FLOC sees that a student understands the material and can move onto more challenging concepts. Our last two reading sessions, our testing list has been two solid pages. During our last tutoring session, our testers gave a total of 31 tests!

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We had a friendly competition start between two of our middle school students, Gabriel and Nata, in the reading program. Gabriel and Nata (6th and 8th graders, respectively) were working together on their Wilson lessons, until we could find a sub for Nata. Gabriel passed his test with flying colors and so Nata and Gabriel parted ways. In the true spirit of competition, Nata wanted to test and be on the same lesson as Gabriel. Nata passed the test and wanted to test again in order to be farther in the curriculum. Nata passed a total of 3 Wilson tests in one day, while Gabriel found a new way to practice using his vocabulary words—by writing a letter trash-talking Nata. This playful competition challenged Gabriel to think about the multiple meanings of his vocabulary words and how to use them most effectively.

(Tamarae Hildebrandt is an NTP site coordinator for the Saturday Afternoon Reading program.)

Events, News

FLOC’s 8th Annual Book Festival: For Love of Reading!

On Saturday, November 17, FLOC celebrated its annual Book Festival with over 150 students and their families gathering at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery. The evening was highlighted by our guest author, Debbie Levy, who shared her inspiration for the book We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song, a story of the racial history in America. She guided the students through an interactive presentation, reading excerpts from her book, sharing historical events in the civil rights movement, and even including a few musical interludes!

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Each student was able to collect up to 15 books to take home and expand their reading collection. The book festival offered books for our youngest students in Kindergarten all the way up to books about college for our high school students. The night also featured  guest appearance from PBS’s Arthur. The younger students especially were overjoyed to see one of their favorite TV and book characters at FLOC’s Book Festival.

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Inspired by We Shall Overcome, the students also did an activity focused on community action. In this activity, students were prompted to make a personal pledge that would address some aspect of change in their community, school, or personal life.

The book festival offered an opportunity for FLOC students to come and share an evening focused on improving literacy. Every student left with a smile on their face and a handful of books that will promote their interest in reading and academic success.

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The over 1,500 books that went home with FLOC students were generously donated by Sedgwick, LLP, M&T Bank, SIGAL Construction Companies, Raffa, P.C., Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, KEYS for the Homeless, and Geppetto Catering (who also provided delicious refreshments!) A huge thank you to WHUT – Howard University Public Television for bringing everyone’s favorite aardvark, Arthur! They also provided backpacks for students to take their books home.

We are grateful for all those who helped out with and attended this year’s book festival and look forward to continuing this event for years to come.

(Kurt Guenther is a program instructor in the Scholars Program and Kate Fleiscsher is the development assistant.  Both served on the planning committee for this year’s Book Festival.)