Here are a few tutoring stories that illustrate some of the circumstances in which families decided to contact me, the ways I worked with them, and the results that transpired. These are all real stories but the families’ names have been changed to protect privacy.
A tale of two brothers
When he entered high school, the younger of the Jones boys struggled with the principles of advanced algebra and performed very poorly on his first high school math test. You can imagine what a confidence-killer this was, especially since both he and his brother were decent, B-range math students. I started working with the younger brother immediately. We met once a week in order to keep up with a fast-paced advanced algebra class, and to consistently review topics that the class was building on. Mrs. Jones would later write, “Ender’s help quickly filled in the missing knowledge, restored his confidence, and has propelled both of my sons to the next level. Ender has remarkable patience and really takes the time to make sure that they understand the principles and concepts behind the math – not just execute “learned formula” problem solving.” I also worked with the older brother for his AB Calculus course. As a jock, he was much more interested in pursuing athletics than in developing his abilities in calculus. Our weekly lessons mostly concentrated on improving his confidence and building his self-trust. I was happy to hear later that “…in fact, our oldest has decided to continue his Calculus in college.” I worked with the younger brother on and off over the years, eventually coaching him through his Calculus BC class and to his acceptance to a well-known engineering program. I couldn’t have been happier about their accomplishments and about being a small part of their success.
Placement Tests, Medical Leaves, Flexible Studies…
Hiring an experienced tutor is an effective way to work through placement tests and unforeseen circumstances in school. Over the years, I’ve worked with many students for their placement tests, helping them realize their potential in high school and place into challenging and rewarding classes that match their ability.
Kim’s mom wrote; “My daughter was going to have to take Math 1 again in school but with less than 10 sessions she placed out of Math 1 and into Math 3 Honors. Ender really enjoys teaching kids and my daughter really enjoyed working with him.” During her Math 3 class Kim had to take some time off from school due to medical reasons, while continuing her classes remotely. She and I covered all of the topics she missed while she was away from school and studied for midterms and the final. I am happy to share that Kim passed her class with an A and did not lose any valuable time from her education.
I also worked with Cassandra while she needed to take some time off. Her dad wrote; “After my daughter had to take a medical leave from school, she needed a tutor who could essentially teach a non-math-student an entire year of 11th grade trigonometry in about 8 weeks. Ender laid out a plan and worked extremely well with my daughter – she felt that he really listened and adapted his style to her way of learning, and the result was successful completion of the course. Ender is absolutely terrific!” Cassandra worked extremely hard for what she achieved. I think what helped her most was the structure, my understanding of her particular learning style and the trust we were able to build with each other.
In special circumstances such as Kim’s and Cassandra’s, a qualified tutor provides value through experience with similar cases, increasing the efficiency and the effectiveness of the limited time spent on the project and most of all, keeping students motivated to reach their goal.
Giving up on math in middle school…
Sandra was attending the Convent of the Sacred Heart, and she told me that she had given up on math completely before finally deciding to meet with me. Obviously, she was not as terrible a math student as she believed; but she was at that age where young girls begin to shy away from math and the sciences, yielding to the unfortunate stereotypes about women in these fields. It is heartbreaking to hear girls in the 6th to 8th grades saying that they “suck at math” and they “will never get it.” This is the time to get them support and a role model to guide them through their transition into Algebra. The task becomes increasingly harder as time passes, and young girls find more reasons to legitimize their giving up. Sandra said, “Before working with Ender, I never expected to get a grade I would be happy with on my math tests or in class. Now and ever since, however, I am confident in my math skills and expect only the best grades.” This is the same Sandra who was on the verge of giving up in the 6th grade. The privacy and focus of our one-on-one sessions changed her vision entirely. Her biggest achievement was learning to “…feel comfortable admitting that I didn’t understand something or asking what I thought might be a ‘stupid’ question.” Sandra and her family later expressed how much they appreciated my patience and my “willingness and readiness to explain it 3 or 4 times if I had to.” It was extremely gratifying for me to be able to connect with Sandra and to be a part of her early transformation. Later we also met for SAT prep and we still keep in touch as she is enjoying her college years.