Terria O. has been coming to tutoring since she was in the 1st grade. Now that she’s in 7th grade and 12 years old, she can see how far she’s come and how much she’s learned. And it’s not just about academic achievement.
“My tutor has helped me with being able to focus more and not get distracted by other things,” said Terria, who has worked with tutor Denise Wells Palfy since Terria was in 3th grade. “She’s helped me be more social. She’s made me more confident about knowing what I’m supposed to do.”
Terria and Denise have focused on building reading skills, although she also spends a lot of time on math skills.
“My favorite thing about tutoring is my tutor,” Terria said. “She really makes sure she’s there every week, and she makes sure that she does research into what I’m studying.”
For instance, as a 7th grader, Terria learned about the U.S. Constitution. She brought her Constitution packet from school every week, and she and Denise worked hard to learn about the country’s government. She recently took the test that every Illinois student must pass. How did she do?
“I got an A,” she said.
Terria said she appreciates the resources at Cluster to help her with homework. She and Denise have used the computers to write papers for school, and they’ve searched for books and other educational material in the library to help with school work. Terria said she also welcomes the extra math help she gets from Cluster’s volunteer math coach, Rohit Naringrekar.
Cluster Tutoring is just one of Terria’s extra activities. She attends Percy Julian Middle School in Oak Park and has been active in the CAST theater program, choir, and the cross-country team. She has been in several plays and musicals (“I like to sing,” she said), had a lead in Having Our Say, and most recently was part of the ensemble in Schoolhouse Rock. Recently, she was cast as the lead in Akeelah and the Bee. She said she wants to continue all of those activities in high school.
Terria, who has five siblings, is part of a family tutoring tradition. Some of her siblings were already in Cluster, so when her mother asked if Terria would like to sign up in 1st grade, Terria was ready. Terria’s oldest sister, Shontasia, a 2016 graduate of Oak Park-River Forest High School, is a Cluster alum and is in her first year of college. Two other siblings also currently attend Cluster.
Next year Terria will get a new tutor, as Denise wants to work with younger students. While she will miss working with Denise, she said nothing would stop her from returning to Cluster.
“I’ll be here through high school,” she said.