A DAY IN THE LIFE OF KATHRYN BLAKE, GREAT OAKS HIGH SCHOOL ELA TUTOR

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6:00 alarm goes off…..

6:15…..I roll out of bed and get ready for my day!

6:45 After finishing off my morning cup of coffee, my roommate and I head out the door of our apartment at Teacher’s Village in downtown Newark and begin our walk to Great Oaks Charter High.

7:00 After I arrive at the school, I head up to the staff room, drop off my things, and collect all of my tutorial materials that I will need for the day.

7:15 Our morning meeting commences! Our tutor corps director brings all of the tutors together each morning to go over important announcements and other pertinent information we will need for the day. Sometimes, we’ll meet with our tutor coach (a previous tutor corps fellow) about upcoming deliverables.

7:20 – 8:00 After morning meeting, I head over to the annex. The annex is a large building where out students eat breakfast and lunch. As they come to school, they swipe in with their ID card to mark their attendance, hand in all of their homework, and then sit down to eat their breakfast. My morning duty in the annex is pretty simple – I’m a greeter. I make sure all of the students are welcomed into the building and catch up with students who I haven’t talked to or seen for a while. I also make sure everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing. At around 8:00, I head up to my first tutorial room, review the lesson, and make sure I’m ready to go.

8:07 – 9:03 My first 9th grade tutorial! I have three great girls and although they can be a bit sleepy in the morning, it doesn’t take long to get them going. Right now, we’re working on creative and narrative writing. They are starting to get the hang of writing their own stories from different perspectives. We’re having fun brainstorming and sharing our ideas together.

9:06 – 10:02 This is my second group of ninth graders. This group is in replacement ELA. Although they need extra support, they are eager participants – sometimes I can’t get them to stop talking. Currently, we are finishing up the book Holes, which was one of my favorites growing up. Depending on the day, we usually read and annotate a chapter from the book, go over vocabulary, and answer comprehension questions together.

10:05 – 11:01 My first 10th grade tutorial! I have two 10th grade boys who always do great work in tutorial. Although one of them has struggled throughout the year in ELA, he is finally improving his grade. He has put in a lot of effort this quarter by completing all of his homework and attending our Saturday Academy program. It is so exciting and rewarding to see significant improvement in your students, and to know that you pushed and helped them achieve in school.

11:04 – 12:00 Another 9th grade tutorial! I complete my morning, with three rambunctious boys who are eagerly anticipating their lunch break. I never quite know what to expect with them – sometimes they are on point and diligent, other times they are lost in space, and sometimes they bicker back and forth. But if I know one thing, it’s that they are bound to crack me up. I really enjoy working with them (even when they try to tell me I’m wrong about something).

12:00 – 12:30 Part of my role as the 9th grade English TA, is to make sure that all of the homework is logged and that students who did not complete their homework are held accountable. At this time, I head downstairs to my mailbox and collect any late homework. I log this in our homework tracker as completed. I then check the absentee list to see which students are in school, but did not turn in their homework. Any student that did not do their homework must stay after school for an hour.

12:30 – 12:50 Break time! My morning is pretty jam-packed. I usually take this time to eat lunch in the staff room and take a little breather.

12:56 – 1:52 I don’t tutor this period, but twice a week I work with a student one on one for “blended learning” as part of his extra support team. We read news articles together, write stories, or work on math problems.

1:55 – 2:51 I’m off this period. I usually take the time to complete any grading I need to do for 9th grade English, input grades, or work on my tutorial plans.

2:54 – 3:50 My last tutorial of the day is with a very interesting student! I work one on one with a 10th grade in Replacement ELA. He is a young man who doesn’t say much, so I find myself trying to come up with creative ways to complete our ELA packet together. We usually have a fun time and it’s a great way to end my day.

3:50 – 5:00 At the end of the day, tutors assist with dismissal duty. On Mondays and Tuesday, we also stay after school for PM Academy, an academic intervention program to help students with their homework. During soccer season, after PM Academy, I would stay and coach the girls’ soccer team until 6. But on a normal day, I head back to my apartment around 5:00.

5:30 – 6:30 At home, I have a snack and complete anything else that’s left for me to do. I write my daily tutor survey, which includes short write-ups about our most and least effective tutorials. The survey also gives us a chance to flag any issues or concerns we may have. Once I finish my survey, I might grade some work or call home to parents. Once I’m done with that, I eat dinner and unwind. Sometimes, I hang out with other tutor corps members. It’s been nice to have a support team of people who understand what you do, face similar challenges, and realize the importance of what we do each day.

Kathryn Blake graduated from Kenyon College as an international relations major and religious minor. After her year of service, she plans on doing non- profit work in education.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF CHRISTOPHER VELASQUEZ, GREAT OAKS TUTOR CORPS MEMBER

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

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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.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF REBECA TABARES, AMERICORPS MEMBER & TUTOR AT GREAT OAKS CHARTER SCHOOL

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5:45 – 6:00

Groggy.

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.

6:40

Morning.

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

6:45

Preparation.

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.

7:00-7:30

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.

10:50-11:45

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.

12:00-1:30

Lunch Break

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

1:30-2:30

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.

2:30-3:30

Planning.

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.

3:30-4:30

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. 

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF NANLEY LOSIER, GREAT OAKS HIGH SCHOOL ELA TUTOR AND ASSISTANT TO THE DEAN OF STUDENTS

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6:00a.m – 6:35a.m.

By 6am I am fresh and out of the shower listening to music in order to get me amped and pumped for the long day ahead! As the music is swaying my morning routine I am getting myself ready: brushing my slacks with my lint brush, adjusting my tie, and assuring I have all of my material for the day ahead!

I have just enough time for a small bowl of cereal; breakfast is the most essential part of my morning. Breakfast is over and it’s time to head out the door. I try to leave my apartment every morning by 6:30, 6:39 the latest. Just before I leave my apartment, I stand and stare out the window and I allow the city of Newark to take me on an adventure!

6:35a.m. – 6:45a.m.

As I head out the door I double check to make sure the door is closed shut and locked. I head to the elevator and as quick as I got on is as quick as I get off of the elevator. I make my journey down Halsey St. and like every morning I tell the security guards “good morning” and share a quick joke or two with them. As I make my way down Halsey, I like to look at the sky and the calm sunrise steadily approaching. Everything just seems so calm and serene in the morning.

I reach my destination (Great Oaks Charter High School) and it’s almost time for the daily “morning meeting.”

6:50a.m. – 7:30a.m.

At 6:50 every staff member is down in the lobby for our morning meeting. At the morning meeting announcements for the day and week are shared, anything we should be on the lookout for during the day such as uniform violations from specific students (some students have trouble keeping their shirt tucked in), and it is a time that we can shine on co-workers who went above and beyond the previous day. The morning meeting is where it all happens just before the academic day begins! As we close out the morning meeting Ms. Harrell says “We are the high school and what do we do” and we all respond “RISE UP!!!!!!!!”

After the morning meeting we head up the elevator to the 7th floor. I head to the staff room and set my area of work up and I hang up my jacket and book bag. I have 9th grade homework collection duty on the 8th floor so I don’t have much down time. Ms. O’Neil kindly hands me my HW data sheet and I’m on my way to the 8th floor.

Students are slowly making their way into their homeroom, but before they reach homeroom they must first hand in their HW to me. You get the chance to learn a lot of your students on a different level when it comes to HW collection. 7:30 hits, the bell rings, HR doors close, and HW collection is officially over for students on time.

7:30a.m. – 7:42a.m.

I make my way back to the staff room and carefully but hurriedly place the HW in their respectful organizers for TA’s to check. After I do this I gather all of my materials for my back to back morning ELA tutorials.

7:45a.m. – 9:42a.m.

Within this time frame I have two 9th grade tutorials back to back. Those two tutorials are 9C & 9E. The first tutorial of the day has commenced! One of my favorite scenic tutorials because the sun meets the horizon in such a vibrant way and the reflection it provides within the classroom is heartwarming. After the Silent Do Now, we engage in our academic content for tutorial and each minute is sacred ensuring that, I, as a tutor, will bridge the academic gap! 9E! My second 9th grade tutorial of the day has begun. The lighting in this room isn’t as good as 9C but it gets the job done! After I adjust the tables for tutorial, we are ready to begin the Silent the DN! And again keeping tutorial sacred as we bridge the academic gap! Best part of tutorial is keeping your students invested within the material and having it connect to their personal lives!

9:45a.m. – 10:42a.m.

During this time you can say the ELA tutors are on “break.” I head to the staff room and prepare my material for my last 9th grade tutorial, which is 9A which begins at 10:45a.m. I place my 1st two tutor materials into my bin and begin on any secondary assignments I may have within this hour. Depending what day it is we have TTC for 9th grade ELA. TTC is where teachers and tutors meet together and go over targeted materials for the week approaching and we discuss what is working and what isn’t working within this week’s material lesson content. Being solution oriented comes in handy within these meetings because they reflect our passion to deliver the content to the students.

10:45a.m. – 11:42a.m.

My third and final 9th grade tutorial, 9A! The students within this tutorial have captured my heart through their relentless effort and poise to become great scholars. Through discussions, vocabulary building, and writing these student scholars have enhanced their confidence and perspective upon themselves! Tutorial is truly the time and place to bring the greatness out of your students.

11:45a.m. – 12:12p.m.

I am now heading to the “Lunch 4 Leaders.” Mr. Bevans’ and I spearhead this small club during lunch. We have 4 male students in which we are fundamentally building the skills of leadership within them. These particular students have the potential to be leaders they just need some brushing up along the edges before they take upon that role.

12:15p.m. – 12:42p.m.

L U N C H T I M E! Sometimes because things are moving so fast, you forget to have lunch. It is important to remember that everyday will not be the same in Great Oaks Charter High School. After I have escaped for lunch, I grab my materials for the 10th grade tutorial sessions and I’m on my way out of the staff room , heading downstairs to pick up my 10th graders from lunch and into tutorial.

12:45p.m. – 1:42p.m.

My first 10th grade tutorial is underway and the key goal is to be effective while I am bridging the academic gap. My 10th graders are more mature than the 9th graders which is a good change of pace because discussions are more intellectual, meaningful, and purposeful! They are truly young adults gaining the knowledge they need to prepare them for college! They usually come into tutorial knowing what is expected of them and they do their best to meet and exceed those expectations on a daily basis.

1:45a.m. – 2:42p.m.

My second 10th grade tutorial has begun and it’s nothing but smiles between the students and I. We give our ritual handshake to one another and tutorial is underway. And again, they come to tutorial ready to learn and work which makes working with them a breeze and a great start to my day of tutoring.

2:45p.m. – 4:12p.m.

During this allotted time frame I quickly head back to the staff room and Ms. Hercules and I begin the preparations for 10th Period and PIT forms. 10th Period and PIT form documents need to be printed, distributed accordingly, and the correct HW assignments attached to each document for each individual student that earned 10th Period or PIT for that given day. After this is complete I engage in other secondary duties that I may need to complete before the end of day. Just before the last period of the day is over, I need to transport the 10th Period and PIT form documents to their appropriate location in order to assure that things are kept to schedule and teachers are transitioned into 10th Period effectively.

4: 15p.m. – 4:30p.m.

During this time frame I make my rounds into each house (homeroom) and I talk to each student making sure that they have their HW for tonight, asking them how their day went, I do my various handshakes with each individual student, and I encourage them to get home safely and swiftly. I head to my House (Indira Gandhi) and I complete my HW check with a few students and then I help transition students to the lobby where they will be dismissed from another great academic day at Great Oaks.

4:30p.m. – 5:30p.m.

The bell rings to signal the end of a regular school day at Great Oaks Charter High School and some students are dismissed on time. However, the other students might find themselves in afterschool 10th period due to a variety of reasons on Monday, Tuesdays or Thursday. 10th period is not a negative punishment but a time for students to complete missing work or homework they might have due the next day. Then, around 5:15pm 10th period ends and some students will get to go home and others might find themselves in PIT. PIT is a time for students cannot do their homework but can reflect on their actions that got them in PIT in order to avoid being caught in PIT in the future.

On Wednesday, no teacher, tutor or student stays late due to Wellness Wednesday. Wellness Wednesday gives everyone a day in the middle of the week to recharge so they can finish the week strong.

On Thursday after school runs a tad bit differently for me. On Thursday’s afterschool students have the opportunity to participate in an enrichment class. The enrichment classes are created by the interest of the tutors at the High School and run by the tutors as well. An enrichment that I spearheaded was chess and now I have the pleasure in assisting the step enrichment!

5:30p.m – 6:00p.m.

I use this time to organize my work area for the next day ahead and I organize my material for both 9th and 10th grade tutorials. I also use this time to make a list of things for me to accomplish when I get to my apartment. The list may include: calling parents, logging points, checking my students’ points for the day, and the daily tutor survey. After all is complete I am ready to take my work home and get a head start for tomorrow’s adventure at Great Oaks Charter High School.

Nanley Losier is a 2014-2015 tutor corp member at Great Oaks Charter High School in Newark, NJ. He is a graduate of Benedict College in Columbia, SC with a degree in English. After his one year of service at Great Oaks, Mr. Losier hopes to further his education career within Urban Education to his highest regard to improve quality of education for all students no matter their circumstance. Plans to receive his Masters in Secondary Education and Urban Education Policy. 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF KELCIE O’NEIL, MEMBER OF THE GREAT OAKS HIGH SCHOOL TUTOR CORPS AND RTI COORDINATOR & SPECIAL EDUCATION ASSISTANT

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6:00-6:10
Time to start the day! My alarm goes off every morning around 6:00am and by 6:10 I have rolled out of bed and have started getting ready for my day at Great Oaks Charter High School.

6:30
I try to leave the room around 6:30 every day so that I have time to stop in the lobby of our temporary home at the hotel to get my coffee and some breakfast before I leave the building around 6:35. It’s about a five minute walk over to the high school and by 6:40 I have arrived and head up to the seventh floor to the staff room. After setting my things down at my desk, I get the ninth and tenth grade homework trackers from the printer. At the high school, every tutor has a morning duty to start the day and mine is the ninth grade homework collector on the seventh floor. Every morning I ask all the teachers what homework is due and put it on the tracker for each homework collector so they know what they should be collecting from students that morning.

6:50-7:00
At 6:50 every staff member is down in the lobby for our morning meeting. At the morning meeting announcements for the day and week are shared, anything we should be on the lookout for during the day such as uniform violations from specific students (some students have trouble keeping their shirt tucked in), and it is a time that we can shine on co-workers who went above and beyond the previous day. At the morning meeting, I get any homework assignments that I wasn’t able to get before coming downstairs and finish filling in all of the spreadsheets so that I can pass them out to the three other homework collectors.

7:00-7:40
This is the time when all of the work I have done so far in the morning comes in handy and makes life easier for myself and the other homework collectors. I sit at my table on the seventh floor by the breakfast table and collect the homework of all of the ninth graders who have their homeroom on the seventh floor. This is also a great time to see a lot of our students as they come to school, which to me, is a great way to start the day!

7:40-9:45
After homework collection is done, I put homework away in their respective folders for the TA’s to go through and then label any missing homework on the online tracker. This is also the time that I get to eat my breakfast and make sure that I have everything ready for my day of tutoring. After I have made sure that I am all ready for tutorials, I work through my to-do list for my secondary duty, which is as the Response to Intervention Coordinator and Special Education Assistant. I always have a running list of things that need to be done, so I use this time to get through as many of these items as possible. Some are as quick as sending an e-mail or checking in with a student, while others are a bit more time consuming like entering an IEP into the computer.

9:45-10:45
Part of my secondary duties is to push-in to a ninth grade math class twice a week to support our students. In this class I support our students with medium to high needs to make sure that they are learning and completing the work along with their peers.

10:45-11:15
After math class, I get back to the staff room for tenth grade math TTC. This is where we go over the plans for tutorial for the upcoming week with the tenth grade math teacher to make sure that we understand them and to ask any questions we might have about implementing the plans. If there is time after TTC, myself and two other tutors share the temperature lunch that gets brought up every day just to make sure it’s good and as a little mid-morning snack.

11:15-12:15
Right after TTC, it’s time for my first tutorial of the day! My first tutorial is with my three tenth graders who have all been with Great Oaks since its founding. They always come to tutorial ready to learn and work which makes working with them a breeze and a great start to my day of tutoring!

12:15-12:45
After I take my tenth graders down to lunch, it is time to eat lunch myself! This is a great time to relax a bit, catch up with my fellow tutors, and get any last minute materials together for my ninth graders.

12:45-1:45
Time for my first ninth grade tutorial! In this tutorial I have four students who are at varying levels. This can make tutorial challenging at times but if I plan out the week correctly, I can work with my two highest needs students together on the packet while the other two are working on the computer to improve their math skills even more.

1:45-2:15
I have a quick half hour break before my last two tutorials of the day which are back to back. I usually use this time to do any quick things for my secondary duty and to prepare myself mentally for my next two tutorials as they sometimes drain most of the energy I have left.

2:15-4:15
My last two tutorials of the day are back to back and are with the rest of my ninth graders. The first of these two tutorials is usually one of my favorites, but can also be the most challenging. While these students can be frustrating at times, they are always making me laugh and they work really hard to learn a lot in the hour that we have together once I get them focused. We have our own little room with a white board, which the students love to use to show off what they know to me and the other students in the group. Right after this tutorial, I head over to the last tutorial of the day with three sometimes very lively students. Since it’s the end of the day, these students can be very tired and not want to work, however I know how chatty they like to be so I use conversation as a motivator for them to get their work done. After they work for a solid ten minutes, we talk about something that’s on their minds for a couple of minutes and then get back to work. This keeps them motivated to work, and most importantly, awake!

4:15-4:30
The school day is almost over! After I set my tutorial materials down at my spot in the staff room, I head over to my homeroom, Frederick Douglas. Every day ends with a snack in homeroom while planners are being checked and students are catching up with their friends. In homeroom, I get to see students who I don’t get to see that much throughout the day since I don’t tutor them and find out how their day was. Once our homeroom is all cleaned up, it is time to dismiss the students. The students with on-time dismissal are read off and dismissed first, followed by the students with tenth period or PIT who are brought up to the eighth floor. On Thursday’s we also have enrichment which the students love so they do their best not to earn tenth period or PIT so that they can attend their chosen class.

4:30-5:30
Once students have been dismissed or brought to their respective after school consequences or activities, I get to finish any work I have from the day. I use this time to grade all my ninth grade exit tickets, log the points I gave throughout the day, and finish up some secondary duties that have to be done before I leave for the night.

5:30-6:00
I always try to leave school between 5:30 and 6 so that I can enjoy my evening, but the time I leave depends on how much work I have to get done at the school. Once I make it back to our lovely hotel, I do my daily survey and make any parent phone calls that are needed from the day. The rest of my evening is spent catching up with my co-workers that work over at the middle school while doing any other work I have for the high school. A lot of times this is working through tutorial packets or logging data for RtI (Response to Intervention) so that I can keep on top of my duties for my secondary role. On occasion, part of my night is spent on the phone with a student, helping them through a homework assignment or studying for a test. Then it is time to relax so that I am nice and refreshed to do it all again the next day!

Kelcie O’Neil is a 2014-2015 Tutor Corps member at Great Oaks Charter High School in Newark, New Jersey. She is a graduate of William Smith College in Geneva, NY with a degree in Mathematics and a minor in Education. After her year of service with Great Oaks, Ms.O’Neil plans to attend graduate school to either teach math or special education.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOEL CHAPMAN, MEMBER OF THE GREAT OAKS TUTOR CORPS & AMERICORPS & 7TH/8TH GRADE HISTORY TEACHING ASSISTANT

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6:00 AM – 6:30 AM: My alarm goes off signaling the beginning of a new day. I roll out of bed thinking to myself how I can make a positive impact at the school. I then begin my roughly half an hour morning routine, which includes making sure I have all my materials for my tutorials, packing a couple of snacks to get me through the day, and checking my email to see the bountiful packets that have made an appearance in my inbox. I then proceed to put on an ironed shirt, dress pants and tie and then I make the short walk (I really mean short walk) to Great Oaks (G.O.). Some mornings, when I am feeling really tired, I try to make a quick pit stop at Dunkin’ Donuts, not for the coffee, but because the crisp morning air truly helps to wake me up.

6:30 AM – 6:55 AM: I arrive at G.O., and take the elevator up to the main office where I say good morning to Mr. Taillefer. I then proceed to print all the packets I am missing and then grab the morning attendance roster because I am the morning attendance tracker for 7th and 8th grade. Before I head outside to collect the attendance, I head to the tutor area on the third floor where I grab blank tutorial packets for my tutees and say good morning to the tutors trickling in.

7:00 AM – 7:45 AM: At 7AM, every morning, I head outside to check off all the 7th and 8th grade students that arrive at or before 7:30 AM. This is one of my favorite roles at G.O. because it is a great opportunity to interact with the students and to build unique relationships with them. Furthermore, an added bonus is that as a result of collecting attendance, I have been able to memorize the names of all the 7th and 8th grade students at G.O. This has made it easier to identify students within the school and to build a rapport with them. After Mr. Taillefer stops shaking hands with the students at 7:30, I head upstairs to the main office where I proceed to help Ms. Lightner, until 7:45 AM, to identify which students are on time and which students are late.

7:45 AM – 8:46 AM: After morning duty, I head up to the Big Hall where I wait for my 6th graders to arrive as my first tutorial session of the day is 6th grade math. Tutorials are roughly 55 minutes long and I tutor all three grades in both math and ELA, for a total of 6 tutorial sessions Mondays – Thursdays. Furthermore, the unique aspect of a tutorial is that no two tutorial sessions are the same. Every session grants the tutor and their tutees the opportunity to get to know each other and build strong working relationships. I currently tutor three 6th grade students and I am amazed, especially during today’s math tutorial, at the progress all three of them have made when it comes to multiplying large numbers and numbers with decimals. Even though it is early in the year, I have seen their confidence in math skyrocket from when they first entered my tutorial.

8: 46 AM – 9:45 AM: This is one of the few breaks I get during the day. As an 8th grade Social Studies Teacher’s Assistant (TA), I use this hour to check off and enter in our school spreadsheet the 8th grade students that completed the homework and those students that did not. After I finish this task, I normally have a quick bite to eat while I finish next week’s packets or grade last night’s Social Studies homework. This is also a great opportunity to foster a strong working environment among the tutors.

9: 45 AM – 9:50 AM: During this time I transition 7th grade students from their room on the fourth floor to the Big Hall, where they have ELA tutorial. As a transition leader, I need to make sure I get the students from one location to another in both an efficient and quiet, Level 0, manner.

9:50 AM – 11: 46 AM: Once the students are in the Big Hall, I commence the tutorial session with my two seventh graders. In today’s tutorial session we are reading a work from Tupac Shakur titled, “The Rose That Grew From Concrete”. Works like these always produce an exciting tutorial session because the three of us have great discussions regarding the reading and we are able to connect it to events that are occurring in society and in our lives. Furthermore, it is great to see how well these two students work and assist one another despite having two different sets of hobbies and attitudes.

After this session is over, I transition the same set of students back down to the fourth floor and then I head over to my next tutorial session, 8th grade math. I am the timekeeper during this tutorial session, which means I call the beginning and end of the 5 minute Do Now, and the beginning and end of the 5 minute Exit Ticket. This is one of my strongest tutorial sessions as my two eighth graders excel in applying the Pythagorean theorem. Once they finished the packet, I come up with my own difficult math problems to help them further master using the Pythagorean theorem. With high school looming around the corner, I make sure to tell them about the importance of building a strong work ethic and the need to consistently challenge oneself.

11:46 AM – 1:25 PM: After this tutorial, I begin my hour and a half break, which is the time during the day that I step back and reflect on what was effective in each tutorial group and what I can do to continue to raise the academic standard in my tutorials. Furthermore, this is the time I usually head over to Mike’s or Dario’s to get a quick bite to eat. After lunch, I continue to work on finishing next week’s packets and completing any grading that I have left.

1:30 PM – 4:26 PM: During this block of time, I have three consecutive tutorial sessions, 6th grade ELA, 8th grade ELA, and 7th grade math. My first afternoon tutorial session is with my 6th graders, and they come into the ELA tutorial with a lot of excitement and energy. This helps get my tutees interested in the excerpt of, “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs. My 8th grade ELA tutorial focused on reading and analyzing a chapter of The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien. This made for an interesting conversation because one of my tutees does not like the book (which is putting it mildly) while my other tutee does. This helps spark amazing debates within the group and enhances my tutee’s critical thinking skills. After this tutorial ends, I have to transition the 7th grade students to the Big Hall, one more time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Once the students are transitioned, I begin my last tutorial of the day, 7th grade math. This was a great tutorial session as my tutees understood and mastered how to differentiate between rational and irrational numbers (It does not hurt that math is their favorite subject). Furthermore, even though it has been roughly two months, I have seen the significant strides one of my seventh graders has made in regards to maturing and improving their behavior during tutorial. Once the tutorial ends, I transition the students to their homeroom on the fourth floor finishing my tutorials for the day.

4:30 PM – 5:30 PM: Even though tutorials may be over, there is still work to be done. This spans the gamut from preparing for the next day’s tutorials to assisting my fellow tutor’s in completing a school related project/task. An example is becoming one of the flag football assistant coaches at G.O. Most of the time, I am working with our middle school’s 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher, Mr. Mickens, in planning our assignments and homework for the week.

Beyond 5:30 PM: After I leave the school, I grab dinner and head back to the hotel where we are staying. However, despite physically leaving the school, our roles as tutors continue. This includes building strong relationships with the parents of our tutees and calling them roughly once a week to update them on how their child is doing both academically and behaviorally at G.O. This is one of my favorite roles as a tutor, because it is rewarding to know that you can provide parents and students with assistance and answers to any issues. For example it may be following up on an incident that occurred during the day or helping a student with homework. While I was grabbing dinner today, I helped one of my 6th graders with her math homework while I was waiting in line at Chipotle. In addition to communicating with parents and students, most nights, involve catching up with tutors from both the middle and high school and working on completing this week’s packets.

Even though it has been two months, my time at G.O. has exceeded my expectations. I wake up each morning thankful to have been selected for this tremendous opportunity and to be working with such an amazing array of tutors, who like me, share a vision where every child can get access to a quality education. I signed up to be a Great Oaks Tutor because growing up in the nearby town of Hillside, NJ where the education level is very similar to that of Newark; I saw the positive impact and the doors that are opened for those with a strong education as compared to those who lack it. When I feel overwhelmed by the workload and the ceaseless packets, I power through because I know that my work as a G.O. tutor helps to close the achievement gap, one child at a time. A gap that will only be closed through the selfless work by all of the G.O. tutors, staff, and like-minded individuals who realize that education is one of the most important tools in improving our communities and our society at large. Playing a role in minimizing this gap, instilling the passion for education in my tutees, and building the foundation for them to be successful in college, motivates me every day as I step through the doors of G.O.

I know it probably sounds cliché but the staff and, especially the students at G.O., has taught me more than what I could have previously have imagined. I have learned how to become a better communicator, to think outside the box when faced with a difficult obstacle, and to see how the world works through a child’s perspective. It is a mutually beneficial relationship that fills me with hope for the rest of the year that I can help my students grow, mature, and prosper both inside and outside the classroom, while at the same time continuing to learn valuable lessons from my driven and amazing tutees.

Joel Chapman is a 2014-2015 Tutor Corps member at Great Oaks Charter Middle School in Newark, New Jersey. He is a graduate of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey with a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History. Upon completion of his service year at Great Oaks, Mr. Chapman plans to pursue a Masters Degree in the field of Public Policy, concentrating in Education Policy to help improve the quality of education for all students.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JAZMINE HARPER-DAVIS, MEMBER OF THE GREAT OAKS TUTOR CORPS AND 7TH GRADE MATH TEACHING ASSISTANT/CHEERLEADING COACH

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5:30 AM
My alarm goes off… I’ll probably snooze it.
5:45 – 6:00 AM Okay, okay. I’m up… somewhat. My roommate and I groggily awaken from our slumber. However, by the time we hit the lights we are up and ready to go.

6:25 – 6:30 AM
My roommate and I usually head out at the same time –keyword- usually. The walk to GOMS isn’t too bad so we get there pretty fast.

6:30-6:45 AM
I arrive at the Great Oaks Middle School, and depending on how early I am, I grab the packets for my students for tutorial that day and get my stuff together. I have a morning duty so I usually gather everything I need for my 7:50 tutorial ahead of time.

6:55-7:30 AM
Either Ms.Helmy or myself will get the 7th grade homework cart and head downstairs to the building lobby to collect the 7th graders homework. This is easily one of the top 3 important duties I have being in the Corps. Reason being, we are responsible for inputting the homework for the day. If a student hasn’t done it, has done less than half of it or forgot their name it’s my responsibility that it is all-accurate. They have homework detentions after school and I want to make sure I’m on my A game.

7:35 AM – 8:50 AM
I leave my duty there and head to the 3rd floor where I grab my belongings for the first tutorial of the day. I’m a transition leader for 6th grade so I make sure I get there early. Luckily, my first tutorial is in the same place I transition so, I win. After Ms.Hunt and Ms.Francis lead their students out, I instruct “Team Smartacus” (it’s a play on Spartacus, their idea, not mine I swear these kids are awesome) to go to their tables for tutorial. In stroll the rest of the students in 409 for 6th grade math tutorial, and as timekeeper I instruct the room to silently begin their Do Now’s at a level zero. I watch my own “band of boys” as they quickly breeze through the Do Now and turn through the packet to see what the tutorial has planned for them. After the 5 minutes of silent working, tutorial has officially begun! I have three boys in my 6th grade group that are always full of energy and excitement despite the early morning start. I always start tutorial off by asking them about their night and morning then we get right into the material. My students really love to race against each other and me, so we spend a lot of time doing that. To check answers I let them determine for if they are correct and have them explain why. They love to do things mentally, which I tell them is great but they also need to show their work. I always ask “Why do we show our work?” and they all answer with a sigh “Because if we happen to get an answer wrong our teacher needs to see where we made the mistake to help us.” Exactly boys. Exactly. Tutorial comes to an end and I call the exit ticket, which is also done silently. I have them rip their exit ticket out, hand it to their tutor and get ready to transition. This time I actually have to move my group so I have them line up silently and we make our way down the hall to their next class, which is Social Studies. After the teacher says then can come in, I make my way to the third floor for homework insertion.

9:00 AM – 9:50 AM
I usually quickly insert the homework in for Tufts during this time to meet the 10 o’clock deadline. This usually takes me 10/15 minutes max and once I finish I make a quick cup of Joe and make sure I have everything for the next tutorial, and of course I do.

9:50 AM – 10:46 AM
Tutorial number 2! I work with two seventh grade girls who are extremely optimistic and bright. They’ve been reading The Outsiders as of late; so much of tutorial is centered around the themes, symbolism, review of that book. My favorite part of this tutorial is how they are able to connect The Outsiders to their own lives to better understand the material. They are so into the book which makes ELA tutorials that much sweeter. This is usually the tutorial that goes by the fastest, much to our dismay. We spend the last 5 minutes before the exit ticket on self proclaimed “girl talk” where we get to know each other better and form a really strong bond. It’s their favorite time, and mine too! Time for me to call the exit ticket and then I’m off to help Mr. Velasquez with 6th grade lunch.

10:50 AM – 11:15 AM
Time to eat! Well the kids at least. I quickly hustle to the 5th floor to help my Partner-In-Crime, Mr.Velasquez, with 6th grade lunch. He usually beats me there so is already setting up when I come join him. We’ve really got the lunch down to a science. Trays, main meal, bread, side option, fruit, and lastly milk. Some days the pattern differs but we try our best to stay consistent. Then in come the 90 or so hungry 6th graders, ready to eat their lunch. We are handing the food out at rapid speed, replenishing as we go. Seriously, there should be an award for this. My favorite part about lunch duty is interacting with the kids, boy are they a funny bunch. After we finish, we set up for the crew that is handing 7th/8th grade lunch and make our way out. Not before checking in to see our beloved Ms.Tabares, who is usually planning at a table nearby.

11:20 AM – 1:25 PM
2 HOURS OF FREE TIME. Just kidding. I have what seemingly looks to be a 2-hour break, however that 2 hours goes by faster than I can say “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” I’m usually taking this time to plan my tutorial packets, insert grades into the system Power Teacher, log my positives/negatives, eat lunch, check my emails, call some family members, check in on my many GroupMe chats, joke around and share stories of tutorials with my colleagues, go visit some of the students during lunch, meet with a staff member and prepare for the next set of tutorials. A good two hours well spent.

1:25 PM – 2:30 PM
I transition “Team Smartacus” from ELA class to our ELA tutorial. I see my beloved three boys and ask how their days are going so far. The usual response is a groan and how tired they are, so I know that I have to bring it in ELA. 6th grade ELA is one of the tougher ones, especially when it comes to get them in the habit of annotating. However, it’s a process and they are now starting to understand why I nag them so much. Now they make it a habit on their own to pull out the highlighters and go at it. They are currently reading City of Ember and they love it so far. They have been learning to ask questions and make inferences in class so I encourage them to do that in tutorial as well. They have SO many questions, and I love it. The best thing to come out of tutorials (aside from when one of the kids gave us all nicknames that corresponded to the Greek Mythology figure we most embody) was when one of them asked “It seems as though we are behind everyone else when we read aloud, we never make it to the end!” Before I could respond his peer turns to him and says “That’s because we want to read for understanding, if we read just to read we don’t take anything in, we need to read with a purpose.” Alas, he is right. So that’s what we do, we read with a purpose. Snack has been handed out, exit tickets are collected and I transition my group to math.

2:30 PM – 3:26 PM
Time to be the best TA I can be. This is one of my favorite parts of the day! Aside from being a tutor, timekeeper, transition leader, lunch lady, I am also the 7th grade math TA for Mr. Gibbs. When I interviewed here back in February I sat in on one of his classes. I loved the way he taught, he keenly reminded me of a math teacher I had in elementary school that made me adore math, so naturally it was a perfect fit I should be his TA right? One thing I really enjoy about Mr. Gibbs is his strong belief in second chances. Every Friday I hand each scholar a packet with his or her graded homework for that week. We allow them to take home and bring back to correct whatever they got wrong to get extra points. As a TA I grade Tufts homework and exit tickets, make 7th grade math tutorial packets as well as help out during class. I love being in class with Tufts so I can observe how Mr. Gibbs teaches, as well as learn what the kids are having trouble with so I can incorporate that into the packets they will have for tutorial. I’ve established my own relationship with the scholars in Tufts so they have no problems coming to me with help or the occasional joke here or there. Class is over and it is now time for my last tutorial of the day, 7th grade math.

3:30 PM – 4:26 PM
This is the last tutorial of the day and my girls and I are usually super pumped. They never fail to mention how much they love math so tutorial is a breeze. They enjoy doing the work independently then swapping papers to grade each other’s work. They really love to motivate each other and help each other through problems they don’t understand. I just serve as a guide to get them there. I rarely like to feed them the answers, so I rather ask questions and see if they can figure it out on their own. They really appreciate that. So much so, they challenge me to compete with them, so I do. (And sometimes they do win.) My favorite moments are when we go over the problems and the answer I give as correct doesn’t match theirs. They quickly examine their work to figure out where they went wrong and 100% of the time they catch it and fix it before I say a word. Self-Discipline at its best! Like our ELA tutorial we spend the last minutes just talking, I like to stress to them that not only am I here to help you academically as a tutor, but both personally and socially as a mentor. That makes our relationship that much more meaningful.

4:30 PM – till the sun goes down
YES! The school day is officially over, but the work never stops there. Usually after school I stay around to help students with homework if they stay later. We also offer an additional hour of homework help called PowerUp every Monday and Wednesday. I also took on another role that I can’t wait to start as Cheerleading Coach. It’s myself and 3 other amazing tutors heading this up and I couldn’t be more excited. We will be having practice Monday-Thursday till 6 so I’ll be super busy, but it will be worth it. After having cheered for the past 9 years, I love being able to teach others what I know, as well as keeping them active, promoting healthy self-esteem and creating friendships.

At home or at school, depending on the day, I also do parent and student phone calls. An extremely important part of my job is keeping parents in the loop on their children’s progress and achievements at Great Oaks. I often receive phone calls from my students who are stuck on homework and need a bit of help. Sometimes they just want to talk too. Then, I eat dinner, work on packets, talk with my coworkers, and watch some TV (Shonda Thursdays anyone?) It’s been nearly two months and I already feel an attachment to my students and the Great Oaks mission. Sure it wont always be easy, but I’m up for the challenge. As I stated when we all stood in a circle and mentioned what we waned to get out of the year, I plan to impact someone’s life in a positive way. Whether it is one of the kids in my tutorial group, a cheerleader, a power up tutee, or a kid I see in passing, I plan to make the most of my year here. Education is something near and dear to me after facing hardships in my own education and there is nothing I love more than seeing young people of color exceeding beyond what they thought was possible. Knowing that there were people to fight for me to have the opportunities I have, I want to make sure the scholars I interact with have the same opportunities I was given and exceed expectations. Thus far this program has refueled my passion to be an educator and I’m grateful to have the chance to change the trajectory of these students life.

Jazmine Harper-Davis is a 2014-2015 Tutor Corps member at Great Oaks Charter Middle School in Newark, New Jersey. She is a recent spring 2014 DePauw University graduate in Greencastle, Indiana, with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Communication & Theatre. Upon completion of her service year at Great Oaks, she plans to enroll in a graduate school and get her Masters for Educational Theatre-Applied Theatre, in hopes to open her own inner-city community theatres to help promote the arts and provide another creative outlet. A firm believer that the arts can make an impact, Jazmine has dedicated her life to ensuring that young people understand the effect the arts can have on an entire community and their own self worth.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JENNIFER STOCKWOOD, MEMBER OF THE GREAT OAKS TUTOR CORPS & AMERICORPS

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5:40 AM
My alarm goes off and I am up and out of bed immediately. Both of my bags are packed the night before, so my only morning activity consists of showering and changing.

6:05 – 6:50 AM
I am out the door and either heading to the school to make my coffee and oatmeal, or if I feel like treating myself, I am heading to Dunks for my coffee and breakfast. I like to get to the school early – it’s quiet and peaceful. I am able to organize my papers/packets and get my brain wrapped around what lies ahead of me. The rest of the tutors and teachers filter in while I sit and putter around. Good mornings are exchanged and the excitement builds as everyone prepares for his or her day.

6:55 – 7:45 AM
As part of my daily duties, I man the stairwell during student arrival. Most days I am met with smiles and pleasant “good mornings!” I love this part of the day because it gives me an opportunity to see all of the students as they all shuffle into the building.

7:50 – 8:46 AM
Time for tutorial! First up, 6th grade math! I have three sixth graders, two girls and one boy, all of who are excited about learning. I love starting off my day with my sixth graders because they have so much energy and are very eager.

8:50 – 9:46 AM
Planning time! Typically I am free during this period, unless there is a teacher/tutor connection or Americorp meeting. When I have time to plan, I like to stay busy – the more work I get done at school the less work I will be bringing home with me!

9:50 – 11:46 AM
Time for my first 7th grade ELA and then 8th grade math tutorials! For 7th grade I have two rambunctious and great girls. Both girls are really intelligent and always end up making me laugh. For eighth grade I also have two girls who aren’t huge fans of math, but always impress me with how hard they are willing to work!

11:50 – 12:30 PM
Quick lunch break – you can find me either heading out to Hobby’s, a nearby deli, or eating some leftovers from the previous night. Sometimes during my lunch I like to call some of my student’s parents to check in and talk about their son or daughter and how they are progressing in their schoolwork.

12:30 – 1:26 PM
Time for MIT, or blended learning! During this period I work with either 7th or 8th grade classes and monitor their work on computer programs that will help boost their reading and math skills.

1:30 – 4:26 PM
Time for afternoon tutorial! First up I have 6th grade ELA, where my students love to read out loud and dive right into the packets. Next is 8th grade ELA, where both of my 8th graders are poets and enjoy reading. Finally I finish up with my 7th graders with math. Both of my 7th graders are very competent in math, so we usually like to race each other to see who can finish the most problems correctly in the shortest amount of time. During my last tutorial with all my students, I like to check in with them about their day and make sure they know what the HW is for the next day…got to try to get that perfect HW grade!

4:30 – 5:30 PM
While the students leave the building for the day, I usually clean up my area and prep things for my next day. By 5:30 PM I try to leave the school so that I can prep for the next day in a new environment, for some fresher thinking!

So far Great Oaks has been very challenging, but very rewarding and exciting! Working with my students has taught me a lot about myself and where my strengths and weakness are. I hope to continue to grow and learn alongside with my students and my fellow tutors.

Jen Stockwood is originally from a small suburb right outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from Yale University in May of 2014 with a B.A. in Psychology. Jen loves working with kids and has always been interested in education, which is what drew her to the Great Oaks tutor program. Although she is not entirely sure what the future holds for her, she is hoping to eventually make it back to Graduate school in the Boston area, working towards a master in Psychology or education.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF ALEX RODRIGUEZ, GREAT OAKS HIGH SCHOOL MATH TUTOR CORPS MEMBER

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6:00 AM – 6:30 AM
The alarm goes off and its time to start another day. The first thing I do is open the blinds to see the sunrise and the city of Newark. Then, I sit down in front of the window with a bowl of cereal and just watch the people below walking on Broad Street. Looking out the window, I always stare with such wonder at this little tree growing on top of an abandon building across the street. I think; How did that tree get on top of the building? Where do the roots attach themselves? Why does this tree always draw me in? And the only answer I can come up with thus far is that it’s just a tree on an abandon building just forgotten or a symbol of growing through the cracks despite harsh conditions.

6:30 AM -6:45 AM
After eating my breakfast and putting on a freshly ironed dress shirt and slacks, I begin my journey to Great Oaks High School. Along the way, I greet fellow tutor corps members with a quick wave or a friendly ‘Good morning.’

6:50 AM – 7:30 AM
Once I arrive at the school, I go straight to the staff room where I quickly gather my items for the day. Next the High School staff has a quick meeting to go over action items for the soon to be school day. After we close the meeting with Mrs. Harrell asking, “We are the high school and what do we do? And we all respond, “Rise-up”, I move to my breakfast duty post. For breakfast duty, I am just responsible for encouraging the students to have a breakfast to start their day right. It’s a nice time to have a quick conversation with students on how their previous evening was and/or how their morning has been.

7:30 AM – 7:42 AM
Homeroom Time! Every morning students start in one of the four homerooms; Jackie Robison, Malcolm X, Fredrick Douglas, or Indira Gandhi. I am lucky enough to be part of IG, which stands for Indira Gandhi. In morning homeroom the students either learn about a recent news event or participate in team building exercise, depending on the day of course. Homeroom is a time that students can bond with peers that they might be closest friends with or might not be enrolled in the same grade.

7:45 AM – 9:42 AM
During this time stretch I am doing a variety of things. The first thing that I do is make sure that I have all my materials for tutorial and I am 100% ready to teach the lesson. Then, I usually report to Ms. Nichols, who runs the Operations aspect of the high school; her position basically covers everything from morning phone calls to parents to ordering all the supplies to keep the school functioning. The reason I report to her is that my secondary position at the school is Assistant to Operations. So that being said, Ms. Nichols usually has a task or two for me to complete at the moment or before the end of the day.

9:45 AM – 12:12 PM
Tutorial Time for 10th grade! At about 9:45 AM, I head to my first tutorial of the day with my brilliant 10th graders. Since I am a Math tutor here at GOCHS, we get to go over geometry problems. Geometry is mainly a new concept for the 10th graders so it’s exciting to watch them learn and apply the things they have learned to the outside world. After the first tutorial, I have a small break before having my second 10th grade math tutorial at 11:15 AM until 12:12 PM.

12:15 AM- 12:42 PM
Lunch Time! The students head down to lunch and I so do I. As of right now, most of the tutors still are living in the Courtyard Marriot so we are provided with student lunches. And, I would have to say the lunches are pretty appetizing and much better than my high school back in the day.

12:45 PM- 4:12 PM
Tutorial Time for 9th grade! During this time span, I have three 9th grade tutorials and a quick break somewhere in-between the tutorials. Each tutorial has its own set of characters that challenge me in many different ways. One of the tutorial groups keeps me on my toes by finishing more advance work that I bring in for them on a day-to-day basis. Another groups, pushes me to work patiently with struggling students to foster their growth in understanding algebra. And the last of these groups, teaches that learning algebra can always has a fun aspect to it.

4:15 PM -4:30 PM
Then comes evening homeroom, this is were all the students report to their homeroom to go over what they have in their planners and have a quick snack before getting dismissed. Its interesting to see all the students come back together after being separated in different blocks and grades all day. Additionally, this is a good time to watch students step up to take charger of an aspect of evening homeroom, which might be checking planners, passing out snack, cleaning the boards or cleaning the room.

4:30 PM – 5:30 PM
The bell rings to signal the end of a regular school day at Great Oaks Charter High School and some students are dismissed on time. However, the other students might find themselves in afterschool 10th period due to a variety of reasons on Monday, Tuesdays or Thursday. 10th period is not a negative punishment but a time for students to complete missing work or homework they might have due the next day. Then, around 5:15pm 10th period ends and some students will get to go home and others might find themselves in PIT. PIT is a time for students cannot due their homework but can reflect on their actions that got them in PIT in order to avoid being caught in PIT in the future.

On Wednesday, no teacher, tutor or student stays late due to Wellness Wednesday. Wellness Wednesday gives everyone a day in the middle of the week to recharge so they can finish the week strong.

On Thursday after school runs a tad bit differently for me. On Thursday’s afterschool students have the opportunity to participate in an enrichment class. The enrichment classes are created by the interest of the tutors at the High School and run by the tutors as well. The enrichment that I am offering to the students revolves around the idea that you can cook and eat healthy food with little money and little supplies. The challenges to running the class involve having no access to a stove, oven or many kitchen supplies along with having little resources as far as money or ingredients. Nevertheless, the class has been well received by many students thus far and I am truly looking forward to making it happen for them.

5:35 pm
All the students have left for the day and the workday is ‘officially’ over. I usually walk home at or a little after this time but either way there is always more work to do. On most days I try to make a phone call or two to some parents to keep them in the loop. Additionally, I try to put in an hour or so of LSAT studying to prepare myself for attending law school in the fall of 2015. The days are long and you are never actually off the clock but its all for the students which makes it alright with me.

My few weeks at Great Oaks have been truly humbling thus far. First off, I would like to say that it has been nice to be in an environment surrounded by individuals that all believe that we are all here to make a difference in these children’s lives. Secondly, working with these children and building a relationship with them has been rewarding thus far. Some of these children have seen things I have never seen and others have taught me things I have yet to learn, which makes this job worth wild. Lastly, I would just like to add that I am looking forward to going through the school year and making a lasting impact in their lives as they will in my life.

Alex Rodriguez is a 2014-2015 Tutor Corps member at Great Oaks Charter High School in Newark. He is a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York with a degree in Economics and Psychology. After his one year of service at Great Oaks, Mr. Rodriguez hopes to attend Law School back at home in sunny Southern California. After finishing his Law Degree, he hopes to continue working with youth by going into child law, a field of law that represents the best interest of the child in legal proceedings.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AUSTIN LAHIFF, MEMBER OF THE GREAT OAKS TUTOR CORPS & PHYSICAL EDUCATION TEACHING ASSISTANT

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6:00 AM: I arise just before 6:00 AM, fresh with a full night’s sleep and ready to attack the day with a renewed vigor. After a thirty minute morning routine, I make the three-minute walk from our temporary lodgings at the Broad Street Marriott Hotel to our home-away-from-home at Great Oaks Charter School.

6:50 AM – 7:35 AM: As tutors, we are tasked with arriving at the school at 6:50 AM, so as to utilize the following hour for either planning purposes or ancillary duties that help to oil the machine that is Great Oaks. On this particular Wednesday, I stand on a street corner adjacent Great Oaks, waving at or shaking hands with students arriving via car or foot as appropriate.

7:40 – 8:45 AM: Though our first tutorial session of the day (6th grade math) will not officially commence until 7:50 AM, as a designated “transition leader,” my duties require me to arrive at a nearby classroom 10 minutes prior to the session and shepherd the relevant children from their homeroom to their assigned tutorial room. My three sixth graders are an interesting hodgepodge of personalities ranging from docile to exuberant, providing for an interesting challenge as I attempt to modulate the group’s collective energy level. Nevertheless, my sixth graders are all strikingly intelligent and push one another constantly to push through the inevitable plateaus they will encounter on their journey to success. Today’s session is once again richly fruitful, as my students demonstrate their mastery with ratios and unit rates.

8:50 – 9:45 AM: Following the conclusion of the day’s first tutorial, I begin my “secondary” role as a Physical Education Teaching Assistant. For the next hour, I will be assisting Mr. Tatum (the P.E. teacher) with maintaining order with his class of often unruly but well-meaning seventh graders during their P.E. class. Assisting Mr. Tatum essentially boils down to the job of continually reminding students to remain on-task, even as their rambunctious tendencies attempt to shine through as their bodies enjoy some much-needed movement. It is important at Great Oaks to maximize the learning potential of each and every moment, and that mission extends to P.E. class.

9:50 – 11:45 AM: Immediately after the end of P.E. class, I hustle to the staff lobby to gather the requisite materials for my next two tutorials (7th grade English and 8th grade math), which follow each other in direct succession. My two seventh grade students are also coming to tutorial directly from P.E., which often leads to some high-intensity, extremely productive tutorials as they pour their newfound energy into their English tutorials. Today is no exception as we blaze through a reading on Helen Keller, engaging in scintillating discussion every step of the way.

Promptly following the 7th grade English tutorial is the 8th grade math tutorial. Much like my 6th grade students, my 8th grade students are an interesting admixture of energy levels, and I have to remain vigilant about making sure that their peaks are not too high and their valleys not too low. Both of my 8th grade students, however, are very bright and (almost) always compliant, lessening my potential burden considerably. We have a solid tutorial session as both students show considerable strides in their understanding of how to add, subtract, multiply and divide with numbers written in scientific notation. I leave tutorial in high spirits and hope that my students feel the same way.

Tutorials consist of a 55-minute-long tutor-guided completion of “tutorial packets,” made explicitly for this purpose by some of my fellow tutors and designed to closely mirror the concepts covered in that day’s class. This period of academic reinforcement can be extremely advantageous for students, as they are given a more intimate, personalized learning session that cannot be found in many traditional learning environments. Students are encouraged to ask questions, and having direct access to a tutor allows for students to have a go-between when they are having difficult grasping a concept they learned in class. Tutorial sessions are, essentially, a way to ensure that students can more readily meet the rigorous academic standards they are expected to uphold when enrolled at Great Oaks.

11:45 AM – 1:20 PM: Following the conclusion of 8th grade math tutorial, I have nearly two hours free for planning and/or lunch purposes. I typically use this period of time to reflect on what went well during my first three hours of tutorial sessions, and what improvements I could incorporate into my sessions so as to become the best possible tutor I can be. I also use this opportunity to brush up on the academic concepts that I’ll be imparting during my afternoon sessions, making sure that I not only understand the material well enough to explain it, but also that I will be able to anticipate questions before they come and have adequate, thorough explanations at the ready that can easily be comprehended by middle-school students. If I find myself with additional time, I’ll also use this lunch break to begin (or continue) preparing my tutorial packets for the following week. Nearly two hours seems like a lengthy time for a simple lunch break, but it’s incumbent upon me to make sure that I remain productive.

1:20 PM – 4:30 PM: Following my lunch break, I’m thrown back into the fray with 6th grade English, 8th grade English, and 7th grade math tutorials back-to-back-to-back. The 6th grade English tutorial doesn’t officially begin until 1:30, but I once again must fulfill my aforementioned duty as “transition leader,” making sure my students arrive at their tutorial room with time to spare. English tutorial sessions generally present a somewhat different set of problems than math tutorial sessions – with a heavier emphasis on discussion, I must ensure as a tutor that students are constantly engaging with the text and learning how to truly read critically. Afternoon sessions can sometimes suffer from students’ flagging energy levels as the end of their school day approaches, but both my 6th and 8th graders today are captivated by the text and eager to discuss their findings, thoughts and ideas. My 7th grade students are eager and full of energy, and use this tutorial session to impress upon me their deep understanding of the various ways to go about finding the area of a square. All in all, my afternoon sessions were productive and, hopefully, effective.

After that: After running through the three-hour gauntlet of afternoon sessions, the school day is technically concluded, but my duties have not quite expired. As tutors, we are expected to make ourselves available for student and parent phone calls each and every weeknight, and tonight is no exception: an hour after heading home, I receive a frantic call from one of my sixth graders and her grandmother, begging me to help her track down that night’s math assignment. It’s a relatively simple task for me to pull off, but the opportunity to help out a student in night is gratifying all the same.

The experience of tutoring at Great Oaks can run the gamut from arduous to exhilarating depending on the time of day, but one thing it never feels like is worthless. Providing students with a rich educational background is the surest way to effect genuine change in their lives, and the work being completed at Great Oaks is of indubitable importance. The job should come easy to anyone who genuinely commits themselves to altering the lives of others for the better.

Austin Lahiff is a 2014-2015 Tutor Corps member at Great Oaks Charter Middle School in Newark, New Jersey. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, with a degree in Economics and Accounting. Upon completion of his service year at Great Oaks, he plans to work in the field of public accounting.