In her seven years at Cluster Tutoring, high school senior Taliya has grown from a young student who didn’t like to read into a young woman who loves to write poetry.
Taliya is a senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School. She and her tutor, Jackie Eckholm, have worked together since Taliya was in 5th grade. Since then, Taliya’s academic skills have come a long way.
“I remember when we first started, we were having trouble with reading,” Jackie recalled.
“I didn’t enjoy it,” Taliya said.
“She was really smart about knowing what words meant,” Jackie said. “It took a couple years to get into reading, and we found out that writing is her real love.”
“Writing is one of my favorite things,” Taliya said. “It’s a way to express my creativity.” Some of her poems have been published in the Tutoring Times, and her college application essay even included one of her poems.
Taliya looks forward to studying fashion design in college. She has one acceptance so far, from Columbia College, and she’s waiting to hear from a few more schools. Taliya has received some educational grants for next year and was awarded two scholarships through Columbia.
But even before she enters an official program of study, she’s already found ways to express herself through sewing clothes and creating other items.
“I’ve made baby blankets and T-shirts, some with my own design,” she said. She’s also learning how to use silk screening and other techniques. She has created jewelry and made some clothes for friends and family. “I like to help other people express themselves, too.
“I love being creative through fashion,” Taliya said. “What better way is there to do that than through clothing?”
The two have enjoyed their tutoring years together. “She’s grown up to be such a beautiful young lady,” Jackie said.
Taliya credits Jackie’s and Cluster’s help with keeping her on the right path. “I think I wouldn’t have passed school without it.”
But what she enjoys most about their tutor-student relationship is that Jackie “pushes me to be my best self.”