Neighborhood Tutoring By Steve Shooman
Gowanus In Unity Tutoring Inc. is a small, all-volunteer program that has served students in need of help with their studies since 1997. Boerum Hill activist James Vacirca, who passed away in 2001, founded the program. Steve Shooman is now the Tutoring Coordinator. Students get individualized help with their schoolwork. One-on-one tutoring allows the tutor to get to know the student, and the student’s academic needs.
Tutoring generally takes place during the school year. Most students live in Gowanus Houses, Wyckoff Gardens Houses or Warren Street Houses, and learn of the opportunity by word of mouth and announcements. Tutoring is also provided for Brooklyn Young Mothers’ Collective as well as two programs sponsored by the Kings County DA’s office (YCP and GRASP).
Each new volunteer tutor is interviewed to determine his or her areas of academic strength, interest and availability. The Tutoring Coordinator then matches the tutor with the need and personality of a student who has applied. Generally, each tutor is matched with one student. Most tutoring takes place at Wyckoff Gardens Community Center, 280 Wyckoff Street, between Nevins Street and Third Avenue.
An initial meeting is scheduled for the tutor to complete forms and review procedures. This is no easy task. A background check, fingerprinting, and a medical including TB test are required by NYCHA.
The time and frequency of sessions is determined. Most tutors meet their students once a week, with sessions lasting one hour. The Community Center is open for tutoring from 3p.m. to 7p.m. on school days.
Students and tutors may ask for help from the Tutoring Coordinator or the Community Center staff if there are any problems. The Tutoring Coordinator will look for erratic attendance patterns, or other concerns, and attempt to resolve them. Parents, tutors and students are encouraged to contact the Tutoring Coordinator. Tutor/student assignments can be changed as needed.
A procedure exists for the tutor to join with the parent to communicate with the student’s teacher when special issues need to be addressed.
Special events may be occasionally arranged for tutors and students who are interested.
Tutors must like to work with children and have basic skills in school subjects. Tutors may indicate a preference of subjects they wish to tutor. Most students are generally between the ages of 7 and 17. Little preparation is necessary because it is the student’s responsibility to bring schoolwork or other material in which help is needed. After getting acquainted, the tutor often supplements and tailors the materials to the specific needs of the student. Additional material to improve student skills is available to the tutor. Basic reference material is also available.
The James Vacirca College Scholarship:
The James Vacirca College Scholarship was created to let students realize that college is within their reach.
Gowanus In Unity Tutoring Inc. is recognized as a charitable organization under the rules of the IRS, Section 501 (c) (3). All donations to the organization are tax-deductible.
To become a volunteer tutor, make a donation, or get more information, please contact Steve Shooman, Phone (718-522-5746) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are making a donation, please make checks payable to Gowanus In Unity Tutoring Inc. and send to Gowanus In Unity Tutoring Inc., c/o Steven Shooman, 184 Dean Street, Brooklyn, New York 11217.