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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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.)