Beyond Tutoring: Fixing a Tablet Computer one Saturday Afternoon

Brad Schwarzhoff shares a story about helping students through the Evening Tutoring program at Family Matters.

For the past few years, I’ve been working with my student Jaime during the evening tutoring program.   During our weekly sessions, I often share my knowledge of technology with Jaime, whether it’s adding some memory to a computer, learning the basics of programming, or most recently, fixing a tablet computer.

Jaime and Brad at tutoring

I’ve gotten to know Jaime’s family since I’ve been his tutor, including Jaime’s brother Marino, who is also a student in the evening tutoring program.  Jaime and Marino were lucky enough to obtain their own tablet computers through a program at their school. On one sad December day, Marino accidentally dropped his tablet and shattered the screen.

A month later a replacement screen was ordered and we spent a Saturday afternoon fixing the tablet.

The tablet in its sad state


We pulled up a youtube video on how to fix a screen on this particular tablet.

Following along with the video, we took apart the tablet, replaced the screen, and re-assembled the tablet. We ran into a couple of challenges along the way, persevered, and were triumphant in the end.

Marino removing the tablet battery

Through some hard work and perseverance, Marino and Jaime learned how their tablets are assembled, and learned how tablets work internally. As a result, they have additional pride when using their tablets.  I learned that it can be more fun to to fix a tablet when you’re teaching someone how to do it.  (A pointer for those of you who may also have a cracked tablet or phone screen – there’s a wealth of information on the internet, including videos that will show you how to do almost anything you want to do, including fix your own electronics.  Be brave and give it a try!)

A happy Marino with his good-as-new tablet.

I’ve now been tutoring at Family Matters for over 7 years.  It has been, without a doubt, the most rewarding experience that I’ve ever been a part of.  It truly is a wonderful organization, and I highly recommend getting involved.

Brad Schwarzhoff

Family Matters evening tutor

Community Tutoring Cooking Fun

Family Matters is a flurry of activity during CPS Spring Break.   As part of our FEEL (Food and Exercise to Eat and Live) Fit Initiative, Community Tutoring students and tutors had the opportunity to participate in a healthy cooking workshop in lieu of regular tutoring during Spring Break this year.

Facilitated by Howard Area Community Center Nutritionist Kathryn S., we learned about ingredient substitutions we can use to make desserts healthier, and prepared and ate a delicious Banana and Berry Crumble.  It was a lively, educational, and fun evening, and we would like to share some pictures and the recipe with you.  Enjoy! 
Playing a matching game to learn about ingredient substitutions…

Getting our baking instructions from Kathryn

Carefully measuring whole wheat flour…

…and plain non-fat yogurt

Yum! Giving Banana Berry Crumble a big thumbs-up!!

Banana and Berry Crumble (Serves 10)
4 large bananas
2 cups fresh mixed berries
non-stick cooking spray 
5 Tbsp whole-wheat flour, divided 
1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4  c. light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter
2/3 c. plain nonfat yogurt
1 Tbsp. honey 
*We doubled the recipe to fit a 9 x 13 pan /serve 20.
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. 
2. Peel and slice bananas in half lengthwise.
3.Rinse berries and pat dry.
4. Spray baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place banana halves flat side down in baking dish. 
5. Toss berries with 1 Tbsp whole-wheat flour.
6. In medium bowl, add 4 Tbsp flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to blend. 
7. Cut cold butter into little pieces. Add to bowl.  Using your fingers, quickly blend the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly. 
8. Spread the crumbly mixture over the fruit in an even layer.  Press down slightly. 
9. Bake about 10-15 minutes, or until the crumble is firm and golden in color. 
10. While crumble bakes, stir together yogurt and honey in a small bowl to create a lighter version of whipped cream. 
11. When crumble is done, spoon 1 Tbsp of yogurt and honey topping over each serving. 

Musical Matters

One of the highlights of Learning Matters Summer School 2012 was Musical Matters– a daily music class facilitated by Valerie Guerra, musician and Schweitzer Fellow through the University of Chicago School of Social Work Administration.

On December 5, 2012, Valerie, Teen Boys program participant Chijoke McClain, and nine Musical Matters participants reunited at Family Matters for a special afternoon: a trip downtown to See Music Recording Studio to record the two songs they chose to learn this summer — Wavin’ Flag by K’Naan and Waka Waka by Shakira.

While the majority of Musical Matters participants are also part of Family Matters school-year initiatives, it was the first time they had been together as a cohesive group since August.  As students walked in the door to Family Matters, arriving after lunch due to an early dismissal day on the CPS calendar, they bent down to untie shoes and boots and hang up heavy winter jackets instead of slipping off sandals and wiping off beads of perspiration, as they did every day this summer.  As each new arrival opened the door, the entryway filled with squeals of delight as participants hugged and high-fived friends they made this summer.

When everyone had arrived, we walked to the Red Line and set off for the studio. At See Music, composer and musician Jon Guerra gave a tour of the studio, while discussing how music is recorded, both for albums and commercials.  Then everyone filed into the recording room and practiced keeping hands and feet completely still so the recording would not pick up extra noises. Rehearsal began!

The energy level rose higher and higher as Chijoke beat the drum and participants started singing. Everyone was transported back to the summer as they sang out with all their hearts.  When the recording was finished, shouts and cheers rang through the room, expressing pride and joy in their accomplishment. Enjoy listening to the final product!

Musical Matters cover of Waka Waka, by Shakira
Musical Matters cover of Wavin’ Flag, by K’Naan

Community Tutoring

Community Tutoring celebrates tutoring students Suraj and Sumina Regmi and their accomplishments over the last four years.

Suraj and Sumina came to Family Matters four years ago, after arriving in the Rogers Park neighborhood through the United States Refugee Program.  Their family was among the more than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees who were exiled from Bhutan in the 1990s due to their Nepalese ethnicity. Suraj and Sumina’s parents were forced to flee their home in southern Bhutan, crossing the border into Nepal by way of India. With so many refugees flooding into Nepal, several refugee camps sprung up along the border, becoming home to these refugees for over 17 years. Suraj and Sumina were born in one of these camps.
In 2008, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees determined that the only viable solution for this refugee population was resettlement in a third country, because the Bhutanese government would not allow them to return home, and the Nepalese government would not allow them to integrate into Nepal.  Suraj and Sumina’s parents immediately applied for the resettlement program; they arrived in Chicago in May 2008. Suraj enrolled as an 8th grader and Sumina as a 4th grader at Gale Academy. Shortly after the school year started, they connected with Family Matters through Jenn Bricker, a Family Matters staff member.
As newcomers both to Chicago and the United States, Suraj and his family were unsure of how to navigate the process of high school applications.  Community Tutoring suggested that he apply to the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund, an organization that provides eighth graders living in Chicago with four-year scholarships to private high schools throughout Illinois. According to Suraj, “Jenn approached me about the scholarship, and walked with my family through the entire process of applying.” He was selected as one of 100 recipients, out of over 1000 applicants, for the scholarship, allowing him to attend Northridge Preparatory High School. Suraj says the opportunity to attend a private high school, with rigorous coursework and a low teacher-student ratio, has made a big difference in his educational journey in the United States.
Suraj also cites the difference that evening tutoring has made for him in high school. He has had three tutors over the last four years and, while the tutors have been very different, he describes each one as patient, interested in his academic success, and able to explain school material in a way that he can understand. He says his tutors feel like family members – people of whom he can comfortably ask questions, and with whom he can joke around and feel relaxed. Suraj looks forward to coming to Family Matters each week for tutoring. “At school, you have to be there. At Family Matters, you want to be there,” Suraj says.
This past fall, Suraj was part of Family Matters’ first partnership with Chicago Scholars, an organization that supports high school seniors through the process of applying to colleges and universities. After spending several Saturdays with Family Matters staff working on college entrance applications and essays, Suraj attended Chicago Scholars College Interview Day on October 30, 2012. He was accepted at four universities in Illinois, one of which offered him a $12,000 scholarship. He is undecided as to which college he will attend in the fall. Regardless of where he enrolls, he plans to seek out tutoring in college. “I have had a great experience with tutoring at Family Matters, so I will look for it on my college campus, too.”
Sumina, now an eighth grader at Passages Charter School, recently received the news that she has been awarded the Daniel Murphy Scholarship. Sumina is thrilled with the possibilities she now has for high school, and is in the process of applying to several private high schools in Chicago for next year. She says she is eager to be challenged to grow academically and personally during high school.
As a participant in Evening Tutoring for two years, Sumina says the community aspect of the program is one of the best parts. “At tutoring, everyone is there for their studies. This makes it easier for me to focus on my studies, too.” Sumina says that the supportive relationship she has with her tutor, as well as the positive school environment she experiences at Passages, have given her the tools to ask for support when she needs it. “I’m not afraid to ask questions of my teachers now,” she says.
In addition to the academic growth Sumina has experienced over the last four years, she says that Family Matters has “helped me grow from the inside.” She describes the relationships she formed with members of the Teen Girls program through her participation in Family Matters summer programs over the last several years, and how special it has been to stay in touch with them by coming to Family Matters. She says that one of her favorite things is coming to visit the Teen Girls program and how “everyone screams and runs to hug me so much that I almost fall down the stairs.”
We rejoice with Suraj and Sumina in their myriad accomplishments!

Postsecondary Readiness Initiative – College Insight

Loyola University hosted “College Insight” Day on Saturday, June 2, inviting community organizations in Chicago to bring rising 9th-12th graders and their parents to explore what the various paths to a four-year college look like.  7 students and 2 parents from Family Matters attended this event, and we had a great day!

Students had the opportunity to hear from a Chicago native 2012 Loyola graduate,  learn about different college scholarship and mentoring programs available, and participate in fun activities around college and career readiness.  In one of the workshops, students completed a budget spreadsheet based on their income from their profession. Students were assigned a profession—everything from a cashier to a TV producer—when they walked in the room, which determined their income.  Several students said this activity was “awesome” and gave them new appreciation for their parents.  

While students were in their workshops, parents attended a session hosted by the parents of a first generation college alum from Loyola. One Family Matters parent commented that hearing from a parent who has “been there” was an extremely valuable experience for her, and that she believes she is now more prepared to navigate the process of college applications with her teens.  
This event was a highlight of our Postsecondary Readiness Initiative (PRI) this year, and we are looking forward to continuing to explore the many different options for life after high school in Family Matters programming this summer and next school year!

Reflection from an Evening Tutor

Holly Smirl shares a reflection about working with her student Jica’h in the Evening Tutoring program at Family Matters.

When I first saw the flyer to recruit volunteer tutors for Family Matters posted on our church bulletin board, I did not take much notice.  As I passed by this flyer each week, I began to feel like it had been placed there just for me.  Despite my reservations of whether I had the time to commit, I called Family Matters and asked about the tutoring program.   As a former teacher, I knew I had something to offer Family Matters and I knew that I could find the time in my schedule for something this important.  After my visit, I was also so impressed with Family Matters that I felt excited and privileged to be a part of this special organization…an organization that cares so much for the neighborhood youth that they support them with afterschool clubs, evening tutoring, summer camps, teen programs and so much more. 
The rest is history.
I have been tutoring at Family Matters in Rogers Park for almost seven years now.  I have been tutoring the same young man for almost that entire time.  I started tutoring Jica’h when he was in second grade.  He is in eighth grade now and preparing himself for the transition into high school. 
Jica’h is a truly fantastic kid.  With his strong family bonds, his hard work and the support of Family Matters, he has developed into an exceptional young man.  I originally began tutoring Jica’h in reading, and now we work on all subjects… including homework!!  Jica’h and I have “conquered” math percentages, reading comprehension, the Vietnam War, and science projects.  Most recently, we have reviewed Jica’h’s unit on the Civil Rights Era.  We even leave a few minutes of time at the end of our tutoring sessions to play foosball.  He beats me every time; although it is a great way to bond… and feel like a kid again!
Jica’h has become like a member of my family.  He knows my children and husband well, and we often go out to eat or spend time as a whole family.  We have a wonderful relationship with Jica’h’s mom and dad, too, and we feel so special to have attended many of his birthday parties, basketball games and family events.  I know that the bond I have formed with Jica’h and his family and the bond that he has formed with my family will be life-long.
I am thankful each day that I answered the ad that I saw hanging on our church bulletin board seven years ago.  By being a volunteer tutor at Family Matters, I have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people who care about others, and have increased my family size.  It is an honor to be part of an organization that REALLY IS changing lives.  I can testify that this is true because the relationship that Jica’h and I share has been life-changing for both of us.
Holly Smirl

Evening Tutoring – You’ll be “dye-ing” to read this!

During Evening Tutoring at Family Matters, students and tutors work on homework and projects from school, and explore other areas of interest. This year, several student-tutor pairs have been digging deeper into science by doing different experiments during tutoring sessions. Here’s a science experiment that Giselle, a 6th grader, is excited to share with you!

You’ll be “dye-ing” to make this!

My tutor Vanessa and I have been dying to make…homemade t-shirts! While looking for crystal making experiments one day, we found an all-natural recipe for dyes. The best part of it was that they were made from fruits and vegetables!
Here is how we dyed the t-shirts:
1) wash t-shirts without fabric softener.
2) cut the fruits (we used blueberries and raspberries to get a pinkish-purple color) and soak overnight in water.
3) simmer on the stove for one hour and add water when it gets low.
4) strain plant residue out
5) add 1 Tbsp. Alum for every quart of dye (found in spice aisle)
6) wet shirt and add to dye in pot on stove and simmer until you get a color you want.
7) rinse out the shirt in cold water and let dry.

Other fruits/vegetables you can use:

Spinach = green
Onion skins = yellow
Raspberries = pink
Blueberries = purplish-blue
Beets = red
Strawberries = pinkish-red
Mangoes = yellowish-orange


Reflection from an Evening Tutor

Jenn Kloc shares a reflection about working with her student Arlene in the Evening Tutoring program at Family Matters.

When I returned to Chicago after a year in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, I found myself settling into a neighborhood I barely knew: Rogers Park. Aside from visiting my sister when she studied at Loyola, teaching English to a woman who lived off the Jarvis stop, and attending a few theater and music performances off the Morse stop, I never had a reason to spend much time in the neighborhood.

When I discovered Family Matters, I knew it was a perfect fit for me — an opportunity to learn more about my new community, and, as an enthusiastic advocate of volunteering, an opportunity to get involved.
I decided to volunteer as a tutor/mentor in the Evening Tutoring program where I was matched with Arlene: a sweet, spunky and smart fourth-grader who, like me, lives in Rogers Park. Building a relationship with Arlene has been a welcome exercise in remembering what it’s like to be a fourth grader. She gets excited about reading mystery books and daydreaming about Hawaii. She jumps at any opportunity to play math or science games on the computer, and she always compliments my nail polish. I helped her plan and execute a fourth grade Science Fair project, and she proudly earned an A-. She is a hard worker and a serious student, so I never have to prod her to focus on her assignments. During our time together, she concentrates on the lesson at hand, eager to grasp it and move on to more fun things like solving the mysteries we choose to read from Family Matters’ library.
Working with Arlene is also an opportunity to support her parents as they navigate her academic world. Arlene and her family speak Spanish at home, and when she had parent-teacher conferences first semester, I went along in case her dad wanted assistance communicating with her English-speaking teacher. I also use my Spanish language skills during parent meetings at tutoring so that Arlene’s parents are able to contribute to and understand the goals we set at Family Matters. And Arlene’s parents have told me about some of the best places to shop and eat in my neighborhood, making it feel more like home. 
Overall, my experiences working with Family Matters have been fantastic. The time I spend with Arlene benefits me on a personal level just as much or more than it supports her in excelling at school, and for that I’m really grateful. She has taught me the ropes of my Rogers Park home and showed me what it means to her to live in the community.
Every Monday evening, I get to be a fourth grader again, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
By Jenn Kloc 

Evening Tutoring

Evening Tutoring students and tutors have been busy making plans for their annual holiday party, which will take place during the week of December 19th. As party plans are starting to take shape, students are getting excited! As part of her tutoring session last week, Arlene Montalvo, a 4th grader, wanted to write a story about the upcoming holiday party. She is eager to share it with all of you! Enjoy!

Santa Comes to the Family Matters Christmas Party

Once upon a time it was Christmas and Santa came to give presents to Keri, Kat, and Jenn. Santa landed on the roof of Family Matters and got stuck in the chimney. He could not get out all night. 
Family Matters was his last stop. On Monday it was party time! Jenn and Arlene went to the third floor to get spoons to eat ice cream. The spoons were where Santa Claus was stuck. Jenn and Arlene saw feet in the chimney, and they pulled Santa out.
“What are you doing here?” Jenn and Arlene asked.
“I got stuck here trying to give presents to Keri, Kat, and Jenn!”
“Do you want to come to the party?” Jenn asked.
Santa came to the Family Matters party to play games and to decorate cookies. It was the best Christmas party ever!
The End
By Arlene Montalvo, 4th grade
Tutored by Jenn Kloc