Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Kevin

Kevin Mayer-edited

Kevin is a Thursday night math tutor, who has been volunteering at FLOC ever since he moved here from the Midwest a few years ago. During the week, he is an engineer at a company that designs solar panels, but he always had an interest in tutoring. One day, Kevin came across FLOC in the comments section of a Reddit article on volunteering in DC, and the rest is history!

For Kevin, tutoring is a nice change from his day job; he enjoys hanging out with the kids, and being able to give back to the community by volunteering. One of his favorite FLOC memories is from summer tutoring a couple of years ago: Kevin wished his student luck at her upcoming track meet, and she melted his heart by responding, “Good luck at your job! I know you’ll do well because you’re so smart!”

Tutoring at FLOC has helped Kevin to grow both personally and professionally.  Professionally, he feels as though he is better able to explain complicated concepts to others outside of the engineering sphere. Personally, Kevin said that he has enjoying gaining a better perspective about his community and a greater appreciation for his own education.

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

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Neighborhood Tutoring Program

Motivated to Learn: Delchristoff and Jason

There are many reasons why our students progress as much as they do here at FLOC’s Neighborhood Tutoring Program. Some attribute their success to their amazing tutors who work tirelessly to ensure their students are able to master the concepts they are learning at FLOC. Others are motivated by the idea of getting to college and they realize that the harder they work at FLOC, the closer they will be to attaining their dreams. There are others for whom those aforementioned motivators hold meaning, but they still need something else to get them going.

This is why FLOC has established the FLOC Incentive Store. At several points during the school year, the FLOC staff stocks up on inexpensive items at Target or Five Below that students might like as an incentive. During program, students are able to earn 0-3 stars from their tutors at every session based on their academic progress and behavior. Students can then exchange their stars every two weeks for an item at the FLOC Store. Our store has been very popular because not only can students get small incentives for their work every two weeks, but they can also put larger items on “layaway” until they have accumulated the necessary stars to win the item of their choice.

Delchristoff_Jason 2014

This brings us to Delchristoff: one of our more energetic students in the Saturday Math program who has been with FLOC for a few years now. He is excited about our program and the opportunity to meet new staff and tutors each year. Last fall, he met Jason Aiken, a new tutor with FLOC, and they have been inseparable ever since. This year, they have been working on Regrouping with Subtraction so that Delchristoff can gain mastery of this concept.

Last Saturday, Delchristoff came to store with 4 stars. He noticed that we had a new item in our store that he really wanted – a Redskins hoop set – valued at 40 stars, so he asked me to put it on layaway for him to purchase in December. Although it seemed unlikely that he would be able to earn 36 stars in the next 4 sessions, I asked him what he needed to do in order to get the necessary stars for the set. He told me that all he needs to work on is sitting on his chair – more specifically he needs to sit still and do all of his work. Jason, his tutor, laughed and agreed. It seems that Delchristoff gets very animated when working on Math and he prefers to learn through games instead of the traditional worksheet method. While we definitely encourage the use of games during program, his tutor would like Delchristoff to also get more comfortable with the worksheets in order to work on his mental math skills (i.e. stop counting on his fingers) and to work on his very large handwriting.

If Delchristoff is able to work on these goals, Jason believes that he will be able to get 40 stars by the end of the school year in May. Let’s hope Delchristoff sticks to his goals so that he can earn more stars each week for his hoop set… and, of course, get closer to grade level in math!

(Aurin Agramonte is the Bilingual Program Coordinator in the Neighborhood Tutoring Program and the site supervisor for the Saturday morning math program.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Staff Perspectives

The Language of Mathematics

Bianca NTP

As anyone that works with students will tell you, it’s not always about what you teach them, but the things that they teach you. This spring, FLOC staff has been working hard enrolling and placing more students and tutors into our programs for the spring semester.

One of our new students, Bianca, attends a French immersion school. While reading through her application and gathering some pertinent information to include for her tutor, I noted her school on her student placement. In Washington DC, I am very used to seeing bilingual schools that our students attend, but this was a first for me.

During her first tutoring session, while getting to know each other, she and her tutor discussed her school. Bianca, one of our new 7th graders, has been at this school since first grade, and every subject is taught in French. When they transitioned into the curriculum, her tutor, Ben, wanted to see how well she knew unit 5, which is multiplication and division facts.

Example of a long division exercise using the French style.
Example of a long division exercise using the French style.

During the session, he asked her to switch roles with him and explain him the concept of division. After a little pause, she explained that she can only describe it in French. Bianca then illustrated the box for the long division symbol, which looks completely different from the way most schools teach it. In case you are wondering, the word division in French is répartition. Math may be a concept that is universal but, as her tutor realized, some of the explanations can still be lost in translation.

(Catherine Brenner is an NTP Site Coordinator at FLOC).