To see Mr. Velasquez in action as part of our Day in the Life video, click below:


6:00 AM

My first alarm rings….

6:05 AM

My second alarm rings….

6:10 AM

My third alarm rings….

6:15 AM

My last alarm rings…yeah I’m that kind of person.

6:15 – 6:45 AM

After a shower, I get my outfit out (professional of course), grab my tutorial plans and my stack of homework that I need to grade throughout the day (we’ll get to that stuff later).

6:50 -7:40 AM

I arrive at Great Oaks and head straight to the third floor tutor area. I say good morning to the staff and tutors and sit at the back table with Solchie (Ms. Solch, a fellow tutor corps member). We have our morning check-in and then I get in my zone. I am the 6th Grade Math Teaching Assistant here at GO, so I like to take this time to either grade homework, input grades or make packets.

7:45 – 7:50 AM

In addition to being the 6th Grade Math TA I am also a transition leader for 6th Graders. I transition the 6th graders to and from Math and ELA tutorials. During this time I transition the students from room 408 to the Big Hall where tutorial is held.

7:50 – 8:46 AM

My first tutorial! My 6th Graders are awesome! I work with Sierra, Oyinkansola, Bryan and Leah; they are all a pleasure to have in the group. This is Math tutorial so I feel this is where I shine since I create the packets. My main goal is to ensure that my students can confidently finish the objective set for them. With this being said there are days where they all are getting the material and there are days where I have to give them a little more guidance. All in all, they are wonderful to work with.

8:50 – 9:50 AM

I use this time after tutorial to input the homework check for the 95 6th Graders here at GO. This usually takes about 20 minutes and with the rest of the time I prepare my tutorial plans/materials for my 7th Grade tutorial.

9:50 – 10:46 AM

My second tutorial! My 7th Graders are just as awesome as my 6th Graders! I work with Geneva and Zahmir and they are great. During this ELA tutorial we make sure to work on all the skills that aid us in reading comprehension and writing. Both of my 7th graders are great in their own respective ways. Geneva is great because she is always trying to find me in the hallways to ask how my day is going. Things like this are the motivators throughout the day! Zahmir ALWAYS goes out his way to make me smile and I truly appreciate it, although sometimes it might be at the wrong time. With that being said, they both work very hard in tutorial!

10:46 – 11: 15 AM

Time to serve lunch for the 6th Graders. I meet my Partner In Crime Ms. Harper-Davis (another tutor corps member) aka H.D aka Weezy in the Big Hall. We literally have lunch distribution down to a science and I truly appreciate her. We help one another replenish the meals for the students, and set up for the next group of 7th and 8th Graders. The best part of lunch duty is interacting with the 95 6th Graders. The plethora of personalities makes for a super enjoyable time serving lunch.

11:15 – 12:26 PM

I use this period to plan for next week’s tutorials, grade, and create packets for the upcoming weeks.

12:30 – 1:26 PM

During this time I TA for the Ohio State homeroom of 6th Graders. This is the time that I enjoy the most because I am an aspiring teacher. I love being in the classroom and assisting Mr. Kankam with the classroom. Being able to be hands on with the students and helping them get concepts while in class, makes me feel like I am truly making a positive impact.

1:26 – 2:25

Time to transition the 6th Graders to ELA tutorial. When we get to the Big Hall the Do Now is called and the students have 5 minutes to complete their Do Now. During this time I take the time to review the packet and make sure I marked all the questions that I would like to focus on most. When the students are finished with the Do Now, I always ask how their day is going. They might look at me like I’m crazy but I do it anyway. We work hard on the packets and wait for the Exit Ticket to be called. After this I transition the students to their next class.

2:30 – 3:26

This period is a toss up. If I have some work to catch up on I will find a quiet place and eat my lunch (yes I know, kind of late). After I quickly finish my lunch I hustle up and get the most done that I can.

3:30 – 4:26 PM

Last period of the day! 7th Grade Math! This is the home stretch, the scholars are pretty tired from their day so I try my best to keep them engaged and energized. They are always ready to learn something new. When tutorial is over I give them our tutorial handshake and make sure I remind them to do their homework.

4:30 – bedtime

I check in with my fellow tutors, and staff to see how their day went. I am pretty tired at this point so I head home and unwind. I usually grade whatever I didn’t grade during the day while relaxing at home. After I finish this I shower, grab some dinner and curl up with some Netflix. Time to prepare myself for another day as a Tutor here at Great Oaks in Newark!

Christopher Velasquez is originally from Bronx, New York and graduated from Hunter College with a degree in Psychology. He plans on going to graduate school next year with the hopes of becoming a middle school math teacher one day.




5:45 – 6:00


I wake up to the sounds of my roommate shuffling about the room preparing to take her morning shower. Thanks to this, I don’t need an alarm clock since I am fully dependent on Miss Stockwood’s dependable punctuality.



After getting dressed, making my morning café con leche and grabbing my bags (all twelve of them), I head off to the school.



I arrive at the school and prepare. I take this time to check my email for any updates. I also print my tutorial packets, which I translate to Spanish for my English Language Learner students, in order to plan them for the rest of the week. I finish off with a quick check to see if I have the materials I will need for the rest of the day.


Morning Duty.

I assist Miss Alexander & Miss Hunt (fellow Tutor Corps members) with breakfast duty. We input students names as they shuffle in, usually out of breathe from the long climb up four flights of stairs. Some enjoy making small talk while others barely grunt a greeting out as they grab their morning breakfast. Regardless, Miss Alexander makes sure to greet every student, in hopes that it will brighten someone’s day.

7:50- 8:45

Math Tutorial.

My situation is a little different from other tutors in that the students I work with arrived at Great Oaks speaking very little English. Keylyn and Nahirobis are two young sisters who recently emigrated from the Dominican Republic. They arrived in March of last year, and when they began the year, there were very few people that could communicate with them. Due to the severity of their need, I don’t have any additional students as my main focus is providing support for the sisters.

We focus on math for our morning tutorial. It is true when people say that math is a universal language. I translate the math packets the other students are studying in class and teach it to the girls, incorporating key words and vocabulary so that they grow accustomed to seeing the terms in English.

8:50- 9:46

Planning time.

I help Mr. Horton, a fellow Tutor Corps member and Social studies TA, with the 6th grade homework check. We sort, label, and arrange the homework everyday. Sometimes when we finish early we grab a quick bite to eat. This usually happens every day.

9:50- 10:46

Language and Phonetics.

Before lunch we focus on English language learning and phonetics. Currently, we are making our way through first grade and second grade level books. In the last couple of months we have worked our way through basic vocabulary, greetings, and vowels. We are currently learning sentence construction, and introducing proper verb placement.


Material Prep.

During the period I begin to translate the math packets for the week. Depending on the girls’ need, I gather extra materials. Translating and modifying the packets usually take a good chunk of time. In addition to the cultural changes the girls are experiencing, I have discovered there are topics taught, based on the common core curriculum, that they have never encountered. In order to progress, it is important to introduce the new topics and have additional materials and lessons prepared.


Lunch Break

I bolt back to the apartment to make myself a meal or warm up leftovers.


Spanish Literature.

Many of the studies that I have read in my ESL research have stated that a child’s proficiency in their native tongue affects the ease with which they are able to learn another language. My hope is that by reinforcing grammar, pronunciation and essay construction in their native language, I will aid the alacrity with which they will eventually learn English.



During this time I make notes on what the girls struggled with during their studies. I will continue translating packets, grading their work, making quizzes or finding additional research materials for their studies.


One on One.

For the final tutorial of the day I usually work solely with Nahirobis. Since she is a grade ahead of her sister, we will usually review the day’s work and I will give her extra materials to practice advanced topics.

When I go home I usually make sure that I make a list of the things I have to plan. My workload depends on how much I have been able to complete and plan during the day. If there is a great deal of work, I will usually assist in grading for social studies.

Sometimes I receive a call from the girls’ father. Since there are many cultural changes and new experiences, I work with him to update him on what is happening at the school. If there are upcoming trips, meetings that need to be scheduled, or changes I will usually explain them to him in Spanish. We also constantly discuss the girls’ progress and I give suggestions for exercises they can do at home and provide homework help when they need it.

Rebeca Tabares is a 2014-2015 Tutor Corps member at Great Oaks Charter Middle School in Newark, New Jersey. She is a graduate of The University of New Hampshire with a degree in Art History and minors in Writing, Studio Art and Nutrition. After her year of service with Great Oaks she hopes to enroll in a program to get her TESOL certification and possibly teach abroad.