In 2018, 56% of economically disadvantaged students in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools scored below grade level in third through eighth grade math. Without a strong foundation, these students are likely to struggle with higher level math like Algebra I, a high school graduation requirement.
Evidence shows that early care and education can help break the cycle of poverty. Moreover, math performance is a reliable predictor of socioeconomic status well into adulthood. Everyone is working hard to support children, especially schools and teachers, but resources are limited, and everyone is at full capacity. This is especially true for high poverty schools.
Heart Tutoring aims to remedy this by pairing struggling students with volunteer tutors who provide focused math intervention. Heart Tutoring’s mission is to ensure that all elementary students develop the strong foundation in math and enthusiasm for academics needed for long-term success.
Heart Tutoring aims to reach a particular student, one who is just on the cusp of mastering their math skills. “These students, they’re doing well,” says Volunteer Recruitment Assistant Jowette Bobray. “But many students have learned to follow rules and procedures without a deep understanding of what they are doing and why. They’re doing fine, but we know we can provide that boost so they can be great.”
Built from a partnership between Social Venture Partners Charlotte, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and Communities in Schools, Heart (originally an acronym for “Helping Ensure Academic Results Through Tutoring”) was born from a focus group led by SVP that identified the need for an avenue for willing community members to effectively help struggling students. After several years of successful piloting, Heart Math Tutoring became an independent, 501c3 non profit in July of 2014.
Over the past six years – and thanks to nearly a thousand volunteers – Heart Tutoring has grown to serve over 900 students in 23 different schools across the city of Charlotte, including Lebanon Road Elementary right here in Mint Hill. 98% of more than 3,400 students tutored to date have met program growth targets in math, and 92% of teachers report that students are more confident and enthusiastic towards math as a result of the program.
Heart’s volunteers commit thirty minutes or an hour of their time a week to providing one-on-one targeted instruction to remedy individual gaps in understanding. Most volunteers work with students in the morning before they go to work or on their lunch break. Tutoring sessions last 30 minutes, so those who volunteer an hour tutor two students back to back. “It’ll fly by because they’ll have a great time together!” ensures Bobray.
No prior teaching experience or math expertise is required to volunteer with Heart, who provides an easy-to-use, scripted curriculum. A program coordinator is present at every tutoring session to answer questions, address concerns and provide encouragement. “We appreciate anyone who has a desire to affect a child’s life in a positive way through one-on-one math tutoring,” says Bobray. “The math that we’re doing is very elementary, so we definitely encourage anyone with interest to get involved.”
“We currently have about 200 students waiting to be partnered with a tutor!” encourages Bobray. “If you or someone you know would like to make an impact in a child’s life as a volunteer, you can sign up today!” Volunteer orientation is already underway (tutoring begins October 7), but Heart always accepts new volunteers well into the spring.
To learn more about Heart Math Tutoring, visit their website: hearttutoring.org. To volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or Jowette.Bobray@hearttutoring.org.