Cluster Tutors owe a lot to Elissa Speizman, a veteran tutor who passed away on Jan. 8, for all the help she offered in setting up a program to help tutors teach math more effectively.
Elissa made a generous donation to Cluster for the express purpose of helping students with math concepts, as many were having trouble with the Chicago Public Schools Common Core math curriculum. With that donation, Executive Director Kara Kalnitz and tutor Cathy Kelso, who spent her career on math curriculum development, came up with the “Just the Facts” math program that tutors use today for students up to grade 5.
“Just the Facts” packets in three-ring binders are available in Cluster libraries. The packets start with addition and basic math and move up to multiplication. Students are assessed individually on their strengths and challenges.
Cathy works with tutor-student pairs as needed, as do Cluster’s math coaches: Rohit Naringrekar, who works with older students; Chip Peeraphatdit and Vicki Schnure, who work with younger students; and Cluster’s new math coach, D.J. Arends.
You can read more about how Cathy developed the the “Just the Facts” program at this link.
Elissa was one of the first female graduates of the University of Wisconsin MBA program. She worked for the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department for 38 years. Elissa was an avid traveler, hiker, and cyclist, and she co-founded the Harrison Street Bicycle Club in Oak Park. She lived in Oak Park and leaves behind her husband, Doug Walder, and two sons, David and Sam Walder.
Elissa’s family asked that any memorials in her name be given to Cluster Tutoring. Those wishing to remember Elissa this way can do so on Cluster’s Donate page.