Tabitha Turner sees her role as Reading Specialist at Cluster Tutoring as being a resource for tutors.
“I’m here for them,” said Tabitha, who works every other week with Tuesday night tutors and students. “I meet them where they are, and see what they need.”
Tabitha came to Cluster last summer when she was one of the teachers at Cluster’s summer reading program. She stayed on to serve as Reading Specialist this tutoring year.
“It’s great to see students making some progress,” she said. “And just being able to help a tutor who’s completely lost is very satisfying.”
Tabitha recalled one student in particular who was definitely not interested in reading but loved basketball. She and the boy’s tutor worked together to find books on NBA stars Michael Jordan and LeBron James, and now he’s a happy reader. “It’s so important to find out what they want to read,” she said.
Tabitha helps tutors in many ways. “I get them resources, suggest activities, help them find games and computer programs on reading.” She has observed many tutor-student pairs to get a better sense of a student’s reading skills.
While Tabitha is available to help all tutors and students, some tutors bring their own expertise. “We’ve got a lot of retired teachers here on Tuesdays, so they have a good grip on what they’re doing.”
Tabitha has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also has a master’s degree in reading education from Concordia and is a Certified Reading Specialist. She is in her ninth year of teaching 3rd grade in the Chicago Public School system, teaching in the Englewood neighborhood where she grew up.
This summer, instead of working at Cluster’s summer reading program, Tabitha will in the coordinator of the AWAKE program that meets at a church in Berwyn, which serves about 40 students.