this is me as a college sophomore with chelsea, the super smart + very vibrant girl i tutored through community impact @ columbia last year. :) i miss her!
when i was a second grader, i remember looking at my sunday school teacher with the most puzzled look on my face when she told me, “evelyn, even though i’m your teacher, i learn a lot from you too.” i responded with flared nostrils + wide eyes and said, “HUH?”
and last year, i finally understood what my sunday school teacher was trying to tell me back then.
i spent my saturday mornings as a sophomore with chelsea, in lerner c555, and i’m so glad she had fun with the more visual + creative ways of learning i had us do together. we would play hangman together to help her develop her spelling skills, group banana chips (that i got from hewitt dining hall) and crayons (from my 64-crayon crayola box) in different ways to review multiplication.
we also did the traditional bookwork sometimes, too, like tackling word problems in her math book. through helping chelsea with those, an interaction i had with her reminded me that, no matter how smart or capable you may be, there’s no embarrassment in saying you’re stuck or that you need help. of course, we all know this, but for some reason, we often tend to associate being smart, strong, and capable with not needing help, which isn’t true.
chelsea moved through her math workbook pretty fluidly until we got to the long division section on one saturday. after reading through the first lesson in that section together, i encouraged her to do the first problem. she grabbed her pencil, and silently looked at the problem for several minutes.
“chelsea, are you stuck?” i said.
she let out a very high-pitched and soft “ummm…..” while looking at me, and then she looked away.
“if you need help, just tell me, okay?”
(after a moment of silence) “i need help.” (chelsea looks at me and puts on a sour face.)
“that’s great that you told me! here, let’s read the first long division lesson again…”
of course, our hour-and-a-half sessions weren’t all work and no play. chelsea was quite a chatterbox: after she and i finished a chunk of her work, i’d always ask her about her life: her friends at school, her favorite food, her favorite shows to watch. she always had plenty to say to the point that i had to remind her that we had better finish her work before her mom came back to pick her up.
her whole family came to pick her up one saturday afternoon in april, and i felt so refreshed when i found out that her family members were all christian, and i got to encourage chelsea and her mom in a new way from that point on.
i wish i hadn’t stopped tutoring chelsea so early, but i was so blessed by her during the time that we did work together every saturday. seeing chelsea write, “today I’m with my tutor, Evelyn. She’s really really sweet and helps me a lot” and receiving her mother’s e-mail of disappointment when I told her I couldn’t tutor Chelsea anymore (“Wow, Evelyn. I’m so disappointed, but that’s okay.”) revealed just how strong of a bond i had with chelsea just by tutoring her. i’m so blessed that we were part of each other’s lives, because even though i was the one tutoring her, she helped me learn some valuable lessons, too.