Jul 17

Students of the Month – July 2022

Jairo – Age 11

Jairo's online drawing
Jairo’s drawings during a session

Among other things, Jairo has a very vivid imagination! We’ve been spending our time doing creative activities—drawing, playing games, reading, etc.—and he has continually made our time together so much more special with the things he comes up with. Whether it be an idea for a painting or a prediction for what happens next in the story, I’m always surprised by the things he comes up with. He’s very eager and excited to learn new things!

Since we started learning together, we’ve encountered many math topics that were challenging. We worked on these topics by starting with what we already knew, then slowly building on that existing knowledge. We explore why things make sense, in the context of past things we had learned and how they relate, which does a lot in reinforcing his understanding of topics. 

Jairo hopes to be a professional soccer player! Regardless of whether his goals stay the same or change, I will always be there to support him. Spending time with students allows me to become much more in tune with the ways they think, and for me this is one of the most beautiful things about teaching. 

– Brian J. Cheng, Tutor

Enrique – Age 12

Watercolor painting by Enrique

Enrique is the perfect blend of curious, fun-loving, and responsible. Just when I am admiring how he is translating for his mom as we complete his scholarship application, he says something to remind me he is 12 and still needs his mom’s and my support.

Enrique has a lot going on in his life that is beyond his control, so sometimes he logs into our tutoring session from the car, a park, or the doctor’s waiting room. Since I’m never sure if he will be logging in from a phone or his Chromebook, I try to plan different activities and play our lessons by ear. Even if we aren’t able to take an assessment or complete a worksheet as planned, we try to keep our appointments to at least check in with each other every week.

Enrique once told me he loved dissecting a frog in science class! He just finished sixth grade, so his plans may change, but he has expressed interest in becoming a doctor. I imagine that he will ultimately be in an occupation that allows him to help others, since he is such a caring soul.

Working with Enrique, I have learned to be more flexible and to listen better. I even document certain discussions in the tutor log; otherwise, Enrique calls me out when I forget something he has told me before! I’m sure I’ll keep learning from Enrique and am excited to see what else he may open my eyes to as we continue working together.

– Sandra Incontro, Tutor

Omar – Age 12

What is special about Omar is his ability to recognize what his strengths and his weaknesses are. He can be very communicative as well, which is fantastic. Although he may be learning academic subjects, I am learning more about Omar’s personality. 

Omar had an especially hard time with fractions and inequalities. At the end of sessions I would send him summary notes of key tips to remember. We studied fractions using divided pizzas or pineapples, since those were some of his favorite foods. Omar hopes to become a boss one day or to build his own business to help with tech issues.

Our time together has taught me that both the teacher and the student are constantly learning. At the end of sessions, I assign him short homework tasks and he will assign me some “homework,” which involves looking into a game, show, or song he likes. 

– Kyla Yadao, Tutor

Fergie – Age 11

There is no one thing I can point at to say how special Fergie is but there are many. When she joins our sessions she can be a ray of sunshine eager to see what today holds for us. A student loving to learn is a dream come true for any tutor but Fergie’s energy, big dreams, and eagerness to learn makes our sessions fun and even more rewarding.

Like many students, she may have trouble grasping the material but always finds a way to fight through the difficulties. She is someone who embodies resilience, not only does she overcome the frustration of learning new material but also of having to learn everything in two languages, Spanish and English. She is special for the previously mentioned reasons but what makes her even more special is her capacity to always bring her positive energy into our sessions and although some sessions feel long, she is always asking when our next session will be.

I believe that her motivation for working through difficulties is her aspiration to become an actress and her goal to let others know what her many talents are. I say this last part because she wanted to be part of the talent show for ASES (her afterschool program) to show off her rollerblading skills and she really enjoys the arts. For her first scholarship application she had asked for drawing materials as I believe they allow her to express herself and it is an activity she says make her feel happy and indeed she likes drawing hearts and other things after our sessions.

Throughout our sessions I have learned a lot about Fergie. I have learned to understand that teaching does not have to be so rigid, that we can have fun and that more effort from both of us can lead to the best sessions. I have also learned that Fergie is a student who faces a lot of frustration, not only is her study space a bit noisy but that noise can sometimes stress her out and of course make it extremely difficult to focus but this is where we both have learned how important it is to be grounded. The most rewarding thing I have learned from Fergie is to remain positive through it all, to work through the tough times because in the end we are at a better place than where we started and we will get to better places as we go.

– Ana Leandro-Ramos, Tutor

Jonnea – Age 10

Jonnea is so infinitely special because, in spite of the multitude of unimaginable adverse life circumstances Jonnea has had to endure, Jonnea fights with an unwavering persistence and beauty that can only be described as being that of a warrior-princess. In fact, Mulan really needs to take a rest because Jonnea is the new Disney Princess!

Among the inspiring strengths and qualities of the amazing girl I have the honor of calling my student, Jonnea does need additional support with fluency and phonics (ELA). Jonnea’s grit is beyond powerful in making progress.

When I envision the future of my student, I see her (about eight years from now) holding her high school diploma. The possibilities are endless, but to put it in short, for Jonnea to overcome all obstacles to embark on a career which energizes her biggest passions and fuels her drive is all I could ever want for her. And I can picture it: a strong, happy, independent, courageous, resilient young woman unstoppable in her might and gentle in her compassion for others.

What Winnie the Pooh said is so true: Sometimes it really is the smallest things that take up the most room in your heart. Everyday, Jonnea grows, improves, and progresses. From all of this, I learned what it means to never ever ever give up on any child.

– Shani Fernando, Tutor