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.)

Events, Scholars Program

College Night 2014: Mapping Our Journey to Success

On December 17th, FLOC students and parents gathered at George Washington University’s Funger Hall for our annual College Night. After snacks, drinks, and conversation, everyone headed to a college fair. It was a joy to see our middle and high school students interact with our alumni and postsecondary students, who took time out of their winter break to represent their college or university. These empowering connections are the best of what FLOC has to offer. Students and parents alike left the event with more pamphlets than they could carry!

IMG_8381 IMG_8413 IMG_8433After the fair, students, alumni, and parents went to various workshops designed to prepare each of them for their next step on the path toward postsecondary and career success. These interactive sessions were based on this year’s theme: “Get Ready! Mapping Your Journey to Success.” These participant-driven conversations were facilitated by FLOC staff, helping to tie substantive information to the enthusiasm sparked by the college fair. Everyone went home with college brochures and workshop handouts to match their excitement and energy about getting ready for college… and also some special treats! We wrapped up the night with a raffle, giving away movie theater gift cards and more, and everyone left with candy for good measure.

IMG_8506 IMG_8454-edited IMG_8464-edited

Thanks to all who came and spent the first part of their holiday season with us at FLOC!

(Jasmine Cornell is the Scholars Program Instructor for 8th and 10th grades and served on the planning committee for this year’s College Night.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Madeleine

Madeleine FazioMadeleine Fazio serves as a math tutor with the FLOC Neighborhood Tutoring Program. She tutors one student on Thursday nights at FLOC and another on Wednesday afternoons at Tyler Elementary. Madeleine, a senior at the George Washington University, first heard about FLOC through GW’s DC Reads Program during her freshman year.

Madeleine has been tutoring at FLOC since the fall of 2011. This year, Madeleine works with two students: Asaah and Melvin.  Both are very motivated.  Asaah likes to fill Madeleine in on everything that is going on at school and talk like peers. This makes working with her very easy because she is very comfortable, loving to crack a joke to make them both laugh. Asaah loves Uno and the Monopoly game with the credit cards.

Melvin is also very motivated. He never says no to anything he is asked to do.  He is so determined to learn that sometimes Madeleine will offer to play a math game for a break, but he just wants to keep learning.

One of the best parts of tutoring, according to Madeleine, is when all of a sudden something just clicks. Asaah always complains about having to take tests, but when she comes out with her passing sheet, she is always so happy. “I think those are my favorite moments working with her,” says Madeleine. “My favorite moment with Melvin was when he won math war–he was so happy! Every week we play the card game war, only with addition and subtraction facts, and he is always very motivated to win that specific game. He will ask to play it just to try to win.”

In addition to tutoring with FLOC, Madeleine is the editor-in-chief of The Cherry Tree Yearbook at GW, which she really enjoys. She is also the president of the GW student chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics. Madeleine will graduate from GW in May.  Starting in September, she will be teaching secondary mathematics in New York City for Teach for America.

(Vanessa Hanible is the Recruitment and Outreach Associate.) 

Student Spotlight

Meet Samantha

SamanthaSamantha, 8, is in the fourth grade at Brightwood Elementary. She’s beginning her third year with the Tuesday night reading and Thursday night math programs at FLOC.

Samantha’s favorite subject in school is math, and she says FLOC has helped her learn to like math. Outside of school, Samantha likes to play tag and other games with her friends. She enjoys being in nature and likes to find worms and other insects outside. In her free time, Samantha likes drawing, painting, and other arts and crafts.

Samantha says that FLOC has “helped my reading a lot”. Asked to pick a favorite activity at FLOC, Samantha says there are “too many to chose from”.
Samantha loves to talk with other students and FLOC staff and is very eager to share her experiences with others. She never fails to put a smile on everyone’s faces. When she grows up, Samantha hopes to be either a doctor or a police officer.

(Benjamin Harris, a student at the George Washington University, was a volunteer tutor in the Thursday Night Math program in the spring of 2014.)

Events, News, Staff Perspectives

A Look at College Night 2013

High school students during the roundtable discussions.
High school students converse with post-secondary students during the roundtable discussions.

On Wednesday, December 18th, FLOC held a College Night for our Scholars Program at George Washington University. The program was divided into two blocks: a college fair for the first hour, followed by age-specific workshops and roundtable discussions. Overall, the night was a resounding success—we had 121 guests attend, over 25 post-secondary schools represented, and effective workshops for all involved. As someone who wasn’t involved in the planning process, I was able to fully appreciate the night with no added stress. Here were my five biggest takeaways:

1. The Spanish speaking parent workshop was met with tremendous optimism.

Spanish speaking parents participate of a workshop facilitated by Aurin Agramonte and Lisvette García.
Spanish speaking parents participate in a workshop facilitated by Aurin Agramonte and Lisvette García.

As we integrate more Spanish speaking families into FLOC, it’s our job to find ways to accommodate their presence at our events. The college process is more than a student experience, and it’s important that students’ families are just as informed as they are. The Spanish speaking workshop provided nearly identical content to the English version next door, giving information parents’ were extremely receptive to as well as a platform for them to share their thoughts and experiences. It was so well received that many of the parents requested additional workshops in the future for more chances to learn and communicate, something we’re now in the process of implementing.

2. The post-secondary networking workshop was the highlight of the night.

In this workshop we had FLOC volunteers meet with our current post-secondary students to learn about potential avenues stemming from their studies, and to learn about jobs that may or may not be directly tied to their majors. Both sides felt the time was very worthwhile, and it’s always exciting to continue to help our students beyond high school.

3. The number one question I was asked during the college fair concerned my alma mater’s athletic program.

Jim Coleman addressing questions from a student during the College Fair.
Jim Coleman addresses questions from a student during the college fair.

And that’s totally OK. The vast majority of the students that came to my booth weren’t entirely sure what they wanted to study, and handing them a list of seventy undergraduate programs can cause more than just anxiety. Comfort on campus can be hugely influential in the mental well-being of a college student, so I was more than happy to talk about my school’s demographics, clubs, and sport teams.

4. Our students have high aspirations.

This was self-evident when the biggest complaint from the students regarding the event was that there weren’t enough Ivy League schools represented during the college fair. I fielded a lot of questions in regards to certain majors, specific professors, the sincerity of advising departments, and professional placement. Overall I was very impressed.

5. FLOC is awesome.

Najé, a FLOC alumni, represents her school during the college fair.
Najé, a current post-secondary Scholar, proudly represents her college.

So maybe this isn’t something I just figured out but how amazing is it that FLOC can offer help and guidance from first grade through high school until a post-secondary degree? These same individuals come back to help current students navigating the same process they went through, while simultaneously creating some type of beautiful, organic, self-sustaining network. FLOC now has a Postsecondary Success Coordinator who is working to expand this network to not only help current college students, but to aid in job placement as well. There’s a reason I chose to suspend my life for a year to volunteer here, and nights like these make it easy to remember why.

(Jim Coleman is an NTP Site Coordinator at FLOC).