Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Student Spotlight, Volunteer Spotlight

WNDC’s Dynamic Duo

Jasmin and her tutor Ashley Oakes have been breaking records in our WNDC testing room this year!


Jasmin is a student in our WNDC – Tuesday night reading program and in the Scholars program. She has passed many tests in the Wilson curriculum and has added new words to her vocabulary such as frolic, compliance, occurrence, and more.

Jasmin began this year in Unit 2, Lesson 1 in the Wilson curriculum and will end at the beginning of Unit 4, Lesson 1. She has shown a lot of dedication to improving her reading skills and works very well with her tutor. This is Jasmin’s fourth year with FLOC, and she says it has been the best one yet.

Ashley has also enjoyed her time at FLOC and credits a former colleague for recommending the program to her. As the oldest sibling from a large family, Ashley often draws from experiences of tutoring/mentoring her siblings while working with Jasmin. They both are excited to return to FLOC next year and continue to work together!

(Felise Ortiz is a site coordinator for the Neighborhood Tutoring Program, including in the Tuesday night program at the Woman’s National Democratic Club.)

Scholars Program, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Gerald

Gerald Mason 2Gerald Mason currently serves as a Postsecondary Coach in the Scholars program. In this role, he is matched with a 12th grade Scholar to provide individual support on his journey to post-secondary education. Gerald first heard about FLOC through his girlfriend, who thought it would be appropriate that he consider FLOC, given his interest in mentoring and education. He’s always had a desire to serve his community but he recognized that having a passion for giving was not sufficient. He knew it was time for his actions to better mirror his values.

Gerald has been a volunteer since the summer of 2014. He started as a Tutor in the Neighborhood Tutoring Program. This school year, Gerald is working with a student named Aldair, who he is helping to complete scholarship applications. Aldar is the epitome of a modern day gentlemen. He’s smart, compassionate, and family-centered. Gerald finds Aldair’s love for science and truth discovery refreshing and is impressed by his indomitable will.

2015-03-18 19.01.00Gerald’s best experience thus far at FLOC occurred on 3/10/15. That was the day he found out Aldair got into his number one school, Catholic University. Aldair will the first person in his family to go to college. Gerald and Aldair worked hard on improving his SAT score to boost the strength of his candidacy. He made everyone proud by increasing his score by 70 points. His acceptance into Catholic justifies his hard work and further legitimizes FLOC’s efforts.

Besides Aldair’s acceptance into Catholic, every day helping him to secure his future is a legitimate contender for Gerald’s “favorite moment” at FLOC. Gerald and Aldair were both applying to schools this school year which made their bond tighter. They had to be accountable to each other. His acceptance into several schools and Gerald’s acceptance into Cornell University for graduate school makes their journey together this year much more memorable!

A fun fact about Gerald is that his mother was a Director at FLOC in the 1980s, which he discovered after he started volunteering.

(Vanessa Hanible is the Recrruitment and Outreach Associate at FLOC.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Samuel

samuel yasmineSamuel Belkin serves as a tutor in the Thursday night math program here at FLOC. In this role, he works one on one with a ninth grade student named Yasmine, providing assistance to help improve her math skills.

After working 30 years as a federal employee with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Samuel was interested in exploring some options for “post-retirement” activities.  He had always enjoyed helping his kids with their math homework, so in June of 2014, he decided to see if he liked tutoring.  On the D.C. Public school system website, he found FLOC on a list of organizations that provide tutoring services within the DC area.

Samuel did some homework and found that FLOC checked out as a well-reviewed local charity, so he sent off an email asking whether FLOC still needed another math tutor to help out for the summer. In his words: “The response was quick – ‘YES,’ followed by a supportive and reassuring welcome message.  I went for orientation and was all set to begin.”

Soon after orientation and training, Samuel was paired up with Yasmine, a delightfully friendly and hardworking young student. When they first met in summer 2014, she was getting ready to start high school with the expressed desire to become a veterinarian. After some brief introductions and “handshaking” lessons (essentially, says Samuel, the same lessons he learned from his grandmother at the tender age of 13) they set to work.

Samuel finds the experience of tutoring math not only a big change from his profession as an optometrist, but amazingly fulfilling. Yasmine has made amazing improvements in her multiplication and division skills since the summer.  Yasmine’s first time taking a multiplication test called the “Product Test” took almost 8 minutes to complete.  Now she can complete it in about 1.5 minutes; they are aiming to be under 1 minute by the end of the semester. Samuel is extremely satisfied with the great progress his student has made since last July.

Additionally, Samuel learned new things as well. He learned a new way to multiply (called the lattice method multiplication).  Working with FLOC has been a great source of joy for Samuel from the beginning, and he hopes to be able to continue providing tutoring assistance for students in the future.

(Vanessa Hanible is the Recruitment and Outreach Associate.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Tutor Perspectives

Making Math Fun (a tutor’s perspective!)

I first moved to Washington D.C. to attend college at American University in the
summer of 2014. Coming into this great, big city, I was slightly overwhelmed as to what college life was going to be like in such a famous city. I wanted to get involved in something because I wanted to make the most out of my college christineandjocelynexperience. During the first month of college I attended my school’s involvement fair. As I walked around, I saw a table that said “FLOC.” I was intrigued to figure out what those letters stood for so I walked up to the table and introduced myself. As we were talking, I found out that FLOC stood for “For Love of Children.” I asked some questions, got some pamphlets, and then proceeded back to my dorm room. Over the next couple of days, I looked through the massive amount of emails and papers I received from signing up for every little club and organization possible. The one organization that kept resurfacing was FLOC.

I am an intended elementary education major with a mathematics minor, so I thought that this was the right thing for me. I decided that this was a perfect way to get some experience with something that I will be doing for the rest of my life. This opportunity was perfect for me because I was able to combine something I love while having the chance to help out someone. I decided to sign up for one of the training sessions and it has been the best decision I have made here in D.C.

I came to the conclusion that tutoring in math would be the best option for me due to the minor I had chosen. From the first day I met my student, Jocelyn, I instantly felt that we were a perfect match. We seemed to mesh really well together and I knew that the rest of the year would be something incredible. I loved FLOC’s mission to make math fun for the students. I look forward to coming to FLOC every Saturday morning and working with Jocelyn. I enjoy playing store with Jocelyn and helping her add up all of the Frozen themed items she has bought.

Each and every Saturday, I look forward to working with Jocelyn and seeing her grow as an individual. Every week I learn more and more about her, like how her favorite color is purple and she loves seeing the pandas at the National Zoo. I especially love seeing Jocelyn pass unit tests and watch her expression after realizing she solved a math problem correctly, all by herself. FLOC has given me such an amazing opportunity that I couldn’t receive anywhere else and it has been the best decision ever!

(Christine Mazzocchi is a first-year tutor in the Saturday Morning Math program at FLOC and a student at American University.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News

Meet Noel

noelNoel, 9, will now attend the fourth grade at Garrison Elementary. During the last school year, he was in the Tuesday Night Reading tutoring program as well as the Thursday Night Math tutoring program.

Noel’s favorite subject in school is math. He says it is his favorite because of how much FLOC has helped him with it. Outside of school and FLOC, Noel likes to play basketball with his friends and relax.

Coming in and doing math and learning to read with his tutor Katherine are Noel’s favorite activities at FLOC. Noel says that FLOC has helped him “do better in his reading and math classes at school.” Noel told me that he wants to do better in all of his classes this year.

Noel likes to joke around with his fellow students and the staff at FLOC.  He has a great sense of humor. When I interviewed him, he said he didn’t want his picture taken because he didn’t style his hair right that day.

Noel enjoys learning by playing games while tutoring. He says it helps him “have fun while learning.” Noel hopes to be a head chef one day. When I asked him what he wanted to cook, he replied “I’m not sure, but it will be something good.”

(Benjamin Harris is a tutor in the Thursday Night Math program at FLOC).

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Tutor Perspectives

A Lesson in Perseverance

Renee-Lauren photo

“I see that you’re getting stern with me.”

Say what? That bit of dry wit comes courtesy of my student, earlier today as we headed to the Fishbowl for a retest. I almost burst out laughing, but instead I just reassured my student that I was simply confident in his abilities and wanted him to do well. As I stifled my laugh I realized that I had gotten stern with him as we reviewed a few things, because I know that he knows. I know he does. I was so confident that he’d ace this step test. But testing can be unnerving, and he tends to rush and muddle the “i” and “e” sounds… so we work at it patiently. We persevere.

I’m not known to be a patient person, so sometimes persevering with my student is difficult. But I can never get angry or frustrated. Not only is that counterproductive, but he doesn’t deserve that reaction. His easy-going manner, wit, and delightful willingness to learn ease things along so much that I’ve become keenly invested in his success at FLOC. I see how and when he tries (hard) and, as I said, I know that he’s capable.

At the end of today’s program when I learned that he had to retest yet again, I immediately began thinking about how I could present the material in a fresh way. I began to mentally prepare myself to review the material carefully and patiently. I know that it’s important to persevere until he understands the short vowel sounds and automatically sounds an “e” instead of an “a” or “i” when I ask him to tap out and spell “cheb,” a pesky but useful nonsense word.

When I began at FLOC I didn’t anticipate a lesson in perseverance. Obviously I knew that the students at FLOC needed help mastering some skills, but I had no expectation of the degree of difficulty to help them accomplish that mastery. Maybe that was that way to begin this experience that I’ve come to enjoy and learn much from an open mind. I just wanted to fill some of my time with something helpful and meaningful. Not to be too sentimental about it, but the exercises in patience and perseverance are welcome, and a reminder that tutoring is as much a gift of your time as it is a gift to yourself.

(Renée-Lauren Ellis is a tutor in the Saturday Afternoon Reading program).

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Student Spotlight

Meet Da’Maree

Da'Maree and her tutor Tim at the Thursday Night Math program.
Da’Maree and her tutor Tim during the Thursday Night Math program.

Da’Maree is a very optimistic student in our Thursday Night Math program. When talking to her I could notice her kindness and her eagerness to learn. Since she started at FLOC this fall, she has shown a lot of improvement in her math skills and a lot of determination to continue progressing. When asked what she would like to learn next semester, she mentioned that she wants to “improve in the area of fractions.”

One of the things that Da’Maree likes the most about coming to FLOC is spending time with her tutor, Tim Woodsmall. Tim has been very helpful and supportive. “I like my tutor. He is the same as me, nice and fun, and helps me a lot. I’m better at math than I was before.”

Da’Maree’s favorite game she’s played at FLOC is Life because “it is similar to life and exciting to see where you can land on.” During her free time she loves to read and submerge herself into the wonderful world that the books can offer. Her favorite book is Grace After Midnight, a memoir written by Felicia “Snoop” Pearson. Da’Maree likes the book because it is a real story about a girl who managed to overcome the challenges that she faced while growing up and later in her life.

When asked about her career interests, Da’Maree said that she wants to be either a judge or a lawyer. We know that Da’Maree has a bright future ahead of her and that her self-motivation and enthusiasm will help her to be a successful professional.

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