Volunteer Tutors Supplement Support System for Treehouse Youth

By Jesse Colman, Treehouse Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Each Treehouse Education Specialist works tirelessly to support Graduation Success students as they achieve goals they set for themselves. Sometimes, those goals are small—such as improving their handwriting. Or big—such as raising a letter grade in math.

Education Specialists can’t do it alone and often turn to the community. Through Treehouse’s tutoring program, volunteers are matched with youth to provide additional assistance in achieving their goals.

“The program is extremely flexible and designed to meet the needs of both the student and the tutor,” said Annie Fidler, Treehouse Education Resource Coordinator. “We match our youth with tutors based on location, availability, skills and anything relevant to that student’s needs. For example, some students may require a Spanish-speaking tutor or someone with a background in special education.”

Once they’re matched, the youth and tutor have an initial meeting with the Education Specialist to facilitate introductions, get to know each other and set up goals for what they want to achieve through tutoring. Then tutors meet with students independently at school, in coffee shops and community centers.

“When I met with my student Michael, we’d start by chatting about how life was, shoot the breeze for 15 minutes and then move to math,” said Chandler Gayton, a Graduation Success tutor and longtime supporter of Treehouse. “He is naturally bright and even taught himself how to code through a video game. One day, I’ll be working for him.”

Tutoring sessions can look different each time, depending on what the student’s goals might be and what kind of mental space they might be in. Often time, this means stepping outside the role of tutor.

“I’d always encourage Michael to work, but I would never force him to,” Chandler said. “It wasn’t a weekly thing by any means, but sometimes we’d just walk around the school or throw the football around. He had enough on his plate and just needed somebody to talk to.”

Chandler and the rest of our tutors play a vital role in closing the achievement gap for youth in foster care. Their efforts help Treehouse youth build confidence as a student, develop stronger communication skills and build self-esteem. That said, youth aren’t the only ones getting something out of the deal.

“If you can provide a few words or just some time to show somebody you care, I guarantee it will come back to you and the community tenfold,” Chandler said.

Due to an enthusiastic response from the community, we are currently only looking for prospective tutors who speak a foreign language or are from South or East King County. If that’s you and you’re interested in tutoring, please email us for more information.

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About the Author

Jesse Colman is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Treehouse. He is passionate about building relationships, storytelling and community development.

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