CentroNía’s tutoring program relies on dedicated volunteers to provide academic enrichment to students. Tutors come from various backgrounds—as students from local universities, working professionals, and recent retirees. They are paired with a student for the session and often these pairs work and grow together over the course of several sessions. While in a tutoring, students receive some homework help; however, the program primarily focuses on improving reading and comprehension skills. This month we’d like to share the special relationship formed between volunteer tutor, Rose Mary, and third grade student, Ariana, from Capitol City PCS.
Rose Mary is originally from Palm Springs, California and has been living in D.C. for the past four years. Today, she works as the Center Administrator for the Security Studies program in Georgetown University. She grew up in a community that viewed Latinos only as English language learners and as high school dropouts. These stereotypes were used to predict her potential and she realized the attention placed on her community was purely deficit focused. It was a non-profit organization similar to CentroNía that showed her that opportunity did exist. With this experience in mind, Rose Mary sought out an opportunity to give back to her community and became a volunteer tutor at CentroNía
In the words of Catherine, CentroNía’s Family Literacy Coordinator, when Rose Mary came to her first session in the fall of 2015, “her connection with Ariana was instant.” At age 8, Ariana is full of personality—she’s bubbly, energetic, and enthusiastic. She is a perfect match for the patient, friendly young professional, Rose Mary. Over just a short time their relationship has grown exponentially. It’s the little things they do that develop trust and respect for each other. For the first ten minutes of tutoring, Ari tells her about the week with her family and what she has planned for the weekend. They share stories about pets and siblings. So far Rose Mary knows Ariana’s favorite animal is a koala, she loves to draw, and she is a professional Candyland player. After the laughter subsides, it’s down to business.
“Even though I have only been Ariana’s tutor since October, I see her as a little sister,” says Rose Mary. “It is such a wonderful experience to work with her because she brings such an enthusiastic energy going into each lesson. As our relationship continues to grow I hope to remain a mentor in her support network.”
Rose Mary and Ariana look forward to their Saturday morning tutoring session all week. Since Ariana completes her homework with her weekday tutor, they focus primarily on improving her reading comprehension. By practicing reading out loud every weekend, Ariana’s confidence has grown as they work together to build her vocabulary and problem-solving skills. One session in particular Rose Mary remembers they were working through a lesson where Ariana had to identify different types of texts. The sample was a poem called “The Owl and the Pussycat”. Ariana giggled because she said it sounded like they were singing as they read it out loud. Together, they ended up singing the entire poem the second time through because she liked it so much. Moments like these strengthen their bond and transcend what was just tutoring into something much more impactful – Rose Mary is becoming a role model for Ariana.
Being a tutor at CentroNía is so much more than helping with homework, teaching, and playing games. CentroNia tutors meet each student exactly where they are, become a part of their life and develop meaningful relationships that last. Rose Mary and Ariana are just beginning their story together and are off to a wonderful start.
If you would like to become a volunteer tutor for CentroNía, please complete our volunteer application online. Our team will reach out to you as soon as possible to continue the process. Thank you!