Harper Darden ‘19
Every Saturday morning, I drive up to the NCS cafeteria to meet up with the Latino Student Fund (LSF) and other volunteers to tutor underprivileged children in the metropolitan DC area. Many of these children come from under-funded DC public schools, leaving them behind the curve for their age group due to inadequate resources. Many of these students also cannot seek homework help from parents or a family member because many of their parents are immigrants, equally lacking in education, and are often unable to get it due to full-time jobs or other circumstances.
I tutor a whole age range of students. Most students I have tutored in the past are in 1st-4th grade, but I have also been frequently assigned to work with the preK students. This is a whole different kind of tutoring. The regular students practice reading and math through worksheets and reading books, but preK students get to color and listen to me read out loud. Some students are content to color dinosaurs and bugs for an hour and a half, but the restlessness gets to some of them, and I am forced to become somewhat of a child wrangler for the last thirty minutes. First, I attempt to coax them from the NCS clearing station, then beg, then yell. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. However, no matter how many funny stories come out of trying to control the four and five year olds, it is always worth it when they follow along with my reading and begin to asks questions about the book, reminding me every time that LSF is helping build a foundation for a future education.
With older students, I search for a seat in our crowded cafeteria to sit down and practice some reading out loud with an independent reading book before moving on to grammar or math worksheets. You never really understand how hard it is to explain what percentages are until you have to to a confused fourth grader. However, just like the preK students, even though we have some “crazy” kids, or ones that require a little extra encouragement to focus on their work, it is always worth it to tutor a student who simply wants to do more math, and to give them the opportunity that they don’t have normally in school.
Through my service at LSF, I have grown to really appreciate the educational opportunity I have at NCS. I know it’s a cliche reminder which we roll our eyes at because of our oppressive homework or our struggles in class, but when we complain, it’s important to keep in mind that we are already much more fortunate than so many others. Education is so important in our society today and in our world, and now that we have been given an opportunity that so many children and adults are deprived of, I encourage everyone to find a way to give back and support either LSF or education in any way they can.