Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, February 23, 2019

AU students tutor children at local charity

In a city where almost half of all students who leave school prior to graduation drop out before the 8th grade, volunteers working with For Love of Children, a local children’s charity, have helped to send hundreds of underprivileged children to college.

Jessica Kurtz helps a local public high school sophomore improve her math skills every Thursday afternoon. The sophomore hopes to go to college some day.

Kurtz, a graduate student in the Washington College of Law, and two other AU students are among the volunteers with For Love of Children, an organization that tutors children in D.C., helping them break out from poverty and make substantial contributions to their communities.

FLOC was founded in 1965 by a consortium of churches on behalf of abandoned and abused children living in D.C.’s “Junior Village,” a neglected and under-staffed orphanage, according to FLOC’s Web site.

FLOC originally offered a variety of social services to neglected children and low-income families throughout D.C., according to Amber Shollenberger, FLOC’s Recruitment coordinator.

In 2005 the organization refocused to provide education and mentoring services to students in D.C.’s public schools, she said.

Morgan Haycock, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, joined FLOC in February. She tutors a fourth grader at the Marie H. Reed Learning Center in Adams Morgan, as part of FLOC’s Neighborhood Tutoring Program. Last year, the program served 412 students across D.C., according to a FLOC newsletter.

The Neighborhood Tutoring Program offers “one-on-one, back-to-basic education for students that want it,” Shollenberger said. In February, Haycock began teaching her student first-grade math.

FLOC offers different programs to elementary, middle school and high school students. The elementary school tutoring is a highly structured curriculum that aims to provide at-risk youth with basic academic skills, according to FLOC’s Web site.

The high school program aims to help older students access and prepare for secondary education, according to Shollenberger. FLOC also operates a summer camp in Harpers Ferry, W. Va., that teaches leadership skills.

Kurtz tutors a high school sophomore at FLOC’s headquarters in Columbia Heights. FLOC offers two tracks: reading and math. Kurtz’s student comes for math help. Although the student is in higher-level high school math classes, she needed help with subtraction and multiplication.

“If they don’t get good instruction in the beginning, they fall behind in higher level classes,” Kurtz said.

Kurtz began volunteering for FLOC in the fall and hopes to continue next year, if her schedule allows. The organization tries to keep tutors with their students as they move up through the school system.

Kim Smithman, a senior in CAS, volunteers during FLOC’s Homework Help Time, which provides students with a “safe and productive place to spend time before their tutors arrive,” according to the FLOC Web site.

She joined FLOC last October to fulfill an internship requirement.

“I would like to continue [volunteering] as long as I can,” she said. “There are countless ways that FLOC contributes to the D.C. community, and it is a great experience.”

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