Zarian and Matthew

Tutor/mentor-youth pairs have participated in one-to-one conversations this year to learn more about one another. We’re pleased to introduce our first pair – Zarian (Z) and Matthew (M)!

Z: Hi, this is Zarian Cargill.

M: And I’m Matthew Walter. Ok Zarian, do you remember starting tutoring with me? What were your first impressions?

Z: Hmm. It was pretty fun. Because I was excited, I didn’t know what was going on but, I was like, maybe I get to play games! And my sister was here so if I didn’t know what was going on she’d help me.

M: Love it. Anything else? First impressions of your time with me?

Z: You were a very, very, very nice guy and you still are. Even if you were trying to say “no” to something you would say it very nicely.

M: Thanks for sharing that, Zarian.

Z: No problem. Do you remember starting tutoring with me? What were your first impressions?

M: I feel like I had a lot of first impressions of you. I noticed that you were very grateful and thankful. And you had a lot of joy and laughter, and you and I really clicked and connected. You’re very conversational, and we laugh a lot together. What more do you want, right?

Z: Yeah.

M: Pretty awesome. Ok next question. Zarian, what do you like about the time we spend together?

Z: I like when we work on math because usually in my class math is hard, but you make it easy.

M: What about it feels easy?

Z: Well like, you help me and make me feel good. Like if I get something wrong, you tell me to slow down and you say it nicely.

M: That’s good to know that that’s helpful for you. Thanks for sharing that.

Z: No problem! What do you like about the time we spend together?

M: I really like that we’re able to work on your homework, do activities from Brooke, read, or work on math. And we’re also able to talk about your life and about your friends and things that you like as well. That’s what I like the most.

Z: (whispers) Thank you.

M: (laughs) Alright Zarian. What have you learned about me during your time in tutoring?

Z: Oh I learned a lot of stuff about you! I learned that you are like the nicest person ever!

(M laughs)

Z: I learned your last name.. Literally just now!

M: (laughs) Yes.

Z: I learned that you’re one the best tutors ever! You should be on the news.

M: (laughs) Oh Zarian.

Z: Like WGN news! 

M: WGN? Like specifically?

Z: Yeah.

M: Man, thank you Zarian! That’s so kind. 

Z: What have you learned about me during this time?

M: Zarian, I’ve learned so much about your friends, Shaneke and Anders, your family, your mom, your sister, and your brother. And Hamilton. And I feel like I learned a lot about how appreciative you are about all of the things you are involved with in your life. You also like games, and learning about and creating stories. I love that. Perfect night to talk about this right? Because we just wrote a story! What have you learned about yourself during this time?

Z: I learned that I have the best tutor ever! I learned that I have the best manager of the best tutor, which is Brooke. (I don’t know if she’s manager…)

M: She’s the manager. 

Z: Oh! I learned that I’m actually good at math when there’s someone nice around me. See, I have a whole family here, and I learned about Sandy [Matthew’s wife], and I learned about everybody! Oh my goodness, I love Family Matters.

M: Love it. That’s just so great. But I’m glad you learned about yourself that you like math and that you’re good at it. And we’ll continue getting better, right?

Z: Yeah. What have you learned about yourself during this time?

M: I think I learned that when I help you it also helps me. When I remind you to like, slow down with math, I also need that reminder for myself to slow down when like I’m reading. Or to slow down when I’m doing math. So this experience of helping you is also helping me. Which is pretty cool. What are the things you remember most about our times together?

Z: Ohh.

M: What things stand out to you?

Z: I remember, I remember when you beat me in Foosball!

M: Oh man. I didn’t mean to.

Z: It’s okay!

M: It happens.

Z: You’re the boss.

(Both laughs)

M: I’m the Foosball boss?

Z: Yeah, and I remember when we did the hot chocolate stand, there was this nice man walking around and after he got the hot chocolate he was like, “Why, thank you for this free hot chocolate!” And then he walked away. He was very nice.

M: That’s awesome. That was fun. Was that during the Christmas party?

Z: Yeah.

M: Nice.

Z: And I remember when I saved the day during the Christmas party with my phone by turning on some Christmas music.

M: You totally saved the day.

Z: What are some of the things you remember most about our time together?

M: I feel like we laugh a lot. I remember those times. I also remember dancing. I feel like randomly we just dance. So fun. Oh like right now.

(Z dances)

M: Uh oh, he’s dancing.

(both laughs)

M: Alright last question. If this were the last time we were gonna see each other, what would you wanna tell me?

Z: I would wanna tell you.. Oh my god you’re the best person ever!! I love you, you’re so nice! 

(M laughs)

Z: I hope this friendship never ends. You’re like the best person. I love you, you’re awesome. Sandy’s awesome!

M: Zarian, you’re so sweet.

Z: You’re awesome.

M: That’s so kind. That’s like the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. I don’t even know what to say. If I were to answer the same exact question for you, I would say, Zarian you’re an amazing person. And you’re gonna do amazing things and you’re awesome.

Z: Thank you.

M: And this isn’t the last time we’re gonna see each other so we don’t have to worry about that.

Z: Phew.

M: Cause we’re buds. Thanks for saying all that nice stuff Zarian.

Z: No problem.

M: We’ve always got nice things to say about each other.

Z: True.

M: Truth! Alright, so what do you wanna say to end it? Just say something classic Zarian.

Z: Uhm.. Uhm I’m a godson.

(both laugh)

M: You heard it here.

 

 


Evening Tutoring Gives Back

This winter, Evening Tutoring hosted a supply drive for two organizations that are neighbors of Family Matters: Care for Real in Edgewater and Refugee One in Uptown. The collected items were specifically requested by the organizations and included household items, personal care items, clothing, and food.

To promote the drive, youth in Evening Tutoring created posters to hang throughout the building, letting everyone who wanted to participate know what to bring and where to put the items. Youth and tutor/mentors were also asked to spread the word to people they know outside of Family Matters. A collection box was placed on the first floor. 

Over three weeks, multiples of the following items were collected and donated: toothpaste, soap, razors, shaving cream, shampoo, body wash, deodorant, clothing (for all seasons), boots, shoes, sheets, blankets, calendars, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, and pasta.

At the end of each week, the donations were delivered to Care for Real and Refugee One for disbursement to the families they work with. 

The idea for hosting a “drive” originated during Evening Tutoring’s Community Conversation last September. Tutor/mentoring pairs gathered together to discuss how they’d like to make a positive impact on their local and global community. The consensus was to host a supply drive, collecting items that people need and aren’t always able to access. 

Representatives from Refugee One said that they are “delighted” to receive the calendars they requested. During one drop off to Care for Real, a box of razors, soap, and shaving cream was handed to the gentleman organizing the donations. He looked at the box and said, “Wow! We can really use these.” 

Thanks to all who contributed to the drive for supporting these two organizations and giving back to this community!

 

 


Family Matters’ 2018 Graduates

We’re excited to share the following list of Family Matters’ 2018 graduates. Congratulations to all!

High School Graduates

Ket Net Pree, Acero Cruz High School. Ket will attend a two-year program at Arrupe Loyola this fall, then plans to transfer to a four-year university.

Melissa Soriano, Senn High School. Melissa will attend Truman College in the Fall to complete her Associate’s Degree before transferring to a 4-year University.

Maung Htay, Senn High School. Maung will attend School of the Art Institute of Chicago this fall.

Yissel Saenz, Rickover Naval Academy. Yissel will attend Lake Forest College this fall.

Kaleyah Wesley, Pathways in Education. Kaleyah was the recipient of the CCH (Coalition for Chicago’s Homeless) Scholarship, and will attend Harold Washington City College this fall.

Shaniya Spears, Pathways in Education. Shaniya will attend DePaul University in the fall.

Ariel Thoma, Amundsen High School. Ariel will attend Wright College this fall.

8th Grade Graduates

Jennifer Nunez, Gale Math & Science Academy. Jennifer will attend Sullivan High School.

Serena Phillips, Disney Magnet School. Serena will attend Evanston Township High School.

Jair & Joav Silva, Nichols Middle School. The twins will attend Evanston Township High School.

Orimoloye Wiliams, Nichols Middle School. Ori will attend Niles West High School.

Alex Torrez, Gale Math & Science Academy. Alex will attend Sullivan High School.

Lamonte Weathers, Gale Math & Science Academy

Michael Porter, Gale Math & Science Academy

Jaheem Adams, Gale Math & Science Academy

Other Graduates

Kevin Jones, Curt’s Cafe Training Program

Bianca Armour (Teen Girls Alumna), Concordia University, BA in Healthcare Management and a minor in Human Resources.

Nachelle Burton (Teen Girls Alumna), Arizona State University, MA in Criminal Justice.


Jennifer and Faith

With eighth grade on the horizon, Jennifer, That Goddess Power (Teen Girls Program) member since 2015, decided she could benefit from Evening Tutoring. In the past twelve months, she has suffered two devastating losses – an uncle to cancer and a close friend in a drowning at the neighborhood beach. Focusing on academics was difficult to do with the anger that surfaced.

Her tutor-mentor, Faith, shares, “That’s one of the first things we bonded over – losing someone. It’s a challenging situation, and I think it’s why Jennifer ended the last year with D’s and F’s. She’s got the drive and motivation. She can do anything she puts her mind to.”

Faith supported Jennifer, and Jennifer worked closely with Ashaki, the Director of That Goddess Power, on ways to regain control of her emotions. The Family Matters community watched eagerly as Jennifer gained the skills she needed to be the star she always wanted to be. She now has all A’s and B’s and is going to sing at her eighth grade graduation ceremony. “It’s because of [Faith and Ashaki]. Because they tell me not to give up; that if I want something I have to earn it.”

Looking back, Jennifer recalled the crucial love and support Ashaki showed to her when she was feeling at her lowest. “She was always there for me. She told me ‘Never give up on what you want. You’re a strong girl. You’re a powerful girl.’ I’d like to thank her for everything she did for me, and especially for listening to everything I had to say.”

Jennifer and Faith also find enjoyment each week when they play math games and listen to music. Faith appreciates the collaborative nature of the Evening Tutoring program, and how she feels listened to and supported. “I’m a piece of the puzzle here.”

Jennifer realizes that hard work and community will be integral in achieving her long-term dreams. She wants to be “a social worker, a dancer, a singer, and a counselor who helps kids who’ve been through things like I have.” She knows, too, that self-love will be the first step in accomplishing these goals. “First we have to love ourselves, then we can love others.” she reflects.

For Jennifer and Faith, that’s what Family Matters is all about. Faith says, “It’s Supportive. Positive. Collaborative.” Jennifer adds, “It’s Community. Leadership. And Love.”


2017 Family Matters Graduates

Family Matters celebrated the graduation of three high school seniors in June 2017.

Cindy Borski and Adrian Hernandez have tutored together since Adrian was in fourth grade. Over the most recent years, Cindy has supported Adrian through numerous academic and personal goals he’s set for himself and assisted him in his application process for various colleges and financial aid. One of their favorite tutoring pastimes this year was having lively discussions about politics and its relevance in their lives.

This spring, Adrian graduated from Mather High School’s Information Technology Academy and will be attending Oakton Community College in the fall to continue his education.

Enrique and Jaime have worked with their tutors, Megan Fellman and Brad Schwarzhoff, for six years. Both young men plan to attend Northeastern University in the fall.

Brad attended Jaime’s graduation ceremony in May, during which Jaime was asked to hand out roses to three people in the audience who played a role in his success. He chose Brad as one of those recipients. During the signing ceremony for a  scholarship awarded to Jaime, Brad shared that he is going to continue his tutor-mentor relationship with Jaime, meeting with him at least once a week as he transitions into college next year. Jaime plans to study computer science, in large part because of Brad’s encouraging guidance when Jaime showed interest in the field.

 

Enrique insists he could not have gotten into his high school without Megan’s guidance. During his eighth grade year, she worked with him on his application essay to Lake View, which Enrique was attracted to in part because they had a strong STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program and offered art classes. With Megan’s support, Enrique was accepted into his first choice high school. Four years later, she was by his side when he accepted his college scholarship.

A positive relationship with a consistent adult can nurture a youth’s potential in powerful ways, and Adrian, Jaime and Enrique are powerful examples of that. We are so excited to see what their next chapters bring!


Anna & John

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John is in 8th grade and attends the Teen Boys Program and Evening Tutoring. His mother, Anna, shares:

“Family Matters offers my son and me a community where we can both offer help and get help. I wanted John to be part of something where he felt like he belonged, not just where he attended or showed up — a place that really fostered relationships, connections and values about accountability and leadership in a very intentional way. The Teen Boys program is exactly that. Homework time was a source of tension and frustration for us. At Community Tutoring, John’s tutor is really able to encourage and push him to pay attention to the smallest details that make big differences in the quality of his work. I [recently] started tutoring a 3rd grader named Lar May and that’s been really rewarding – he set goals of getting A’s and B’s on his tests and that goal helped him get on the honor roll this past fall.”


Anna and Diamond | A Tutor Story

When Anna and Diamond started working together six years ago, Anna devised a simple but effective tool for motivating Diamond: stickers.

“She loved stickers,” Anna says.

The two laugh as they remember the binder Diamond covered with all of the stickers she earned for things like writing down her assignments.

Although she still has that binder today, Diamond says stickers aren’t quite the motivator that they used to be. “Don’t get me stickers now,” she jokes.


Her love for stickers isn’t the only thing that has changed. Six years ago, Diamond was a shy sixth-grader who hated books. Today, she is an outgoing high school student in Senn’s theater program, and she cites reading as one of her favorite hobbies—thanks, in part, to Anna.

The relationship between Anna and Diamond has evolved, too, from that of tutor-tutee, to that of friends.


“It’s just interesting the way it’s changed so much,” Anna says, explaining that early on, the pair focused more on skill-building, like multiplication and reading. Now, though, Diamond is able to complete most of her assignments on her own.  “So we just talk about things,” Anna says. “It’s just more of a relationship that way.”


Their relationship extends outside of their weekly tutoring sessions, with Anna frequently attending Diamond’s theater performances, such as Our Town. The two also enjoy spending time together baking cookies and apple pie, a hobby Anna introduced to Diamond. Diamond has also taken advantage of Family Matters programming other than tutoring, such as the Teen Girls program and weekly piano lessons. “I have so many memories from here,” she says.

Yet both agree that their friendship is one of the main reasons they return to evening tutoring year after year.

“It’s just Diamond,” Anna says. “Just the relationship that we have.”

“I agree,” says Diamond.


Gretchen and Arin | A Tutor Story

In 2006, Gretchen signed on to idealist.org, looking for an opportunity to tutor in the Chicago area. She had no idea that, almost a decade later, she would still be riding the train to Family Matters every Thursday evening. 

For Gretchen, Family Matters is more than just a tutoring organization. It is a community, the source of numerous new friendships, and a place that has felt like “home” for nine years.

It is also the spot that has given Gretchen the opportunity to get to know Arin, a sixth-grader at St. Mary of the Lake who Gretchen describes as smart, hard-working—and just a little bit sarcastic. In the four years that Gretchen has been tutoring Arin, the pair has worked on everything from vocabulary words to science experiments. Gretchen has been impressed by the breadth of Arin’s intelligence, her analytical skills, and her willingness to learn.


But it’s the time that Gretchen and Arin have spent just hanging out that Gretchen has enjoyed the most. Gretchen constantly shows up to Family Matters with something new in her bag: Boggle, art supplies, the ingredients to make homemade biscuits. Arin says she likes working with Gretchen because of her fun personality and sense of humor. Gretchen similarly appreciates how much Arin makes her laugh.

“I just really like working with Arin,” she says, explaining that her reason for tutoring is pretty simple: “It makes me feel happy.”


And although Gretchen has seen a lot of exciting developments over her nine years at Family Matters, her favorite thing about Family Matters is that it still feels like the same place she found on idealist.org nine years ago. “It’s a home, it’s a community, and that hasn’t changed.”





Megan and Enrique | A Tutor Story


When Enrique, a high school sophomore, first met Megan, she struck him immediately as someone who could offer him “a lot of help” with his schoolwork.
            He was right.
            Over the last three years, Megan and Enrique have used their weekly tutoring sessions to tackle a range of projects including bringing up Enrique’s algebra grades, improving his punctuation skills, and learning new vocabulary words. For a recent English project, Enrique was required to memorize and perform at least 14 lines of a Shakespearean sonnet. The idea of making eye contact while delivering his lines made Enrique nervous, so the pair drew pictures of peoples’ faces and hung them around their tutoring room. Delivering his lines to this “audience” over multiple tutoring sessions paid off: Enrique earned over 100% on the project.
            Megan, who works in Northwestern’s media relations department, says that she enjoys tutoring Enrique in part because of his pleasant personality and intelligence. She also credits Family Matters with providing an environment that supports tutoring pairs. “You don’t feel like you’re left to your own devices,” she explains.

            Beyond schoolwork, Megan also encourages Enrique to try out new activities at school. Last year, he participated in volleyball. This year, she has urged him to learn about his school’s drama program since he enjoyed performing the sonnet for his English class. “She takes her time with me,” Enrique says. “It’s a lot that she does for me.”
And though Megan is quick to deny it, Enrique insists he could not have gotten into his high school without her help. During his eighth grade year, he sat down with Megan and Keri, the evening tutoring coordinator, to discuss the high school he wanted to attend. He was attracted to Lake View for multiple reasons—they had a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program, offered art classes, and of course, they didn’t require students to wear uniforms. As part of Enrique’s application, he had to write an essay about the neighborhood in which he grew up. Megan prompted Enrique to think about different details he could include in his essay and assisted him in organizing his thoughts into an outline. When he found out he was accepted into Lake View, Enrique “just felt so happy.”

            This year, the pair’s goal is to continue working on essays and writing thesis statements, a skill that will no doubt come in handy when Enrique eventually starts applying to colleges.  Although he doesn’t really like to think too much about the future, he says he might like to become an artist, or maybe a photographer. He also likes to sing and wants to travel the world. In the meantime, though, he’s focused on getting through the next few years of high school—and he’s grateful to have Megan’s help along the way.

Community Tutoring Student in the Chicago Tribune

 Today’s post is by Devin Jones,  a member of FM’s Evening Tutoring Program and a 6th grader at Hawthorne Scholastic Academy.  Devin had a class assignment to write a “letter to the editor” and submit it to the Chicago Tribune. Here’s what Devin has to say about his letter: 

 
My letter was about the topic we had to write about in reading class. The topic was about food insecurity. 
 
What I wrote came from my ideas about health problems caused by global warming when it can rain too much or it won’t rain enough so food can’t grow and crops dry out. People start starving.
 
There are categories in the Chicago Tribune and my letter went online. I was excited when my teacher sent an email to my mom telling her mine would be in the Tribune. I was the only boy out of three of us chosen. 
 
I give special thanks to my mom and dad, and Ms.Lang my teacher.
 
Read Devin’s letter in the Chicago Tribune here