Hope Through Homework

Hope Through Homework

Posted on July 20, 2017

BY JULIE PAYNE, GRACE ATTENDER & WHIZ KIDS TUTOR
 
I blame my daughter! It was her idea! Caroline was a teenager in high school at the time and wanted to be a Whiz Kids tutor. Because she needed someone to drive with her, she enlisted me as her sidekick. It sounded like a good idea. After all, it would give me “car time” with my teenaged daughter, allowing me to keep tabs on what was going on in her life, as well as giving us the opportunity to do something positive together. Agreeing was an easy decision. 


          
Little did I know that five years later, and several years after Caroline went to college, I would still be tutoring at Shepherd Community Center. Why? The stock answer is that I am making a positive difference in a struggling child’s life. While I trust that is true, I believe the impact is more far-reaching.



In my five years of tutoring, I’ve tutored Ana for the past four. She is truly special, and I have grown to love her. I met Ana when she was only six years old and was struggling to navigate between Spanish and English while learning how to read. Most children find the first steps of reading difficult, but it is especially challenging when caught between two languages. It was slow and a bit bumpy at first, but, with patience on both of our parts, she persevered and succeeded. It has been exciting to be a part of her academic growth and to watch as those “light bulbs went off.”  I have also had the privilege of watching Ana blossom socially. With each academic success, she gained self-confidence, which resulted in more confidence in both the classroom and her social circles. While she once seemed hesitant and reserved, she is now much more assured and outgoing. She even ran for president of her class.



At each session, we first focus on reading, then homework. Once completed, we usually play games, talk or work on an art project. One of my favorite parts of each session is when I arrive. When Ana sees me, her face lights up, and she gives me a huge hug. I miss that beautiful smile now that summer has arrived and so look forward to seeing it again this fall. So, yes, Whiz Kids is about helping a child achieve academic success, but the relationships that develop are what make the drive downtown worth it.
 
There are many great programs to get involved with and organizations to support. The positive difference with Whiz Kids is that it is a one-on-one situation in which you get to know your child as both a student and a person. Many tutors, like me, are able to tutor the same students for several years, which develops a mutual bond and sense of commitment. Over the years, I’ve observed tutors of all ages, backgrounds, and genders engage with their students. Each and every one of them brought something special to the program and demonstrated to the students that they are important enough to commit time on a weekly basis. It’s a win-win situation.
 
Upon reflection, I need to rephrase my opening statement. I don’t blame my daughter; I credit her for getting me involved in Whiz Kids. Thank you, Caroline!

2 Ways To Step In Right Now! 

1. Tutor

Interested in joining the Whiz Kids team? Click here to sign up or contact Liz Byers for more information.
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2.Buy a Backpack

Every July, we provide 1,200 backpacks to local kids in need. All you have to do is purchase a prefilled backpack for $25. Click here to buy one now. 
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Bonus

One of the coolest things you can experience is tutoring with Whiz Kids and getting to see all the backpacks you've provided for these students. While it might be just one click and $25, it makes the world of difference to these kids!