All it took for Linda Moore to start tutoring was a call-out in church for volunteer tutors. After that, it didn’t take long for her to become hooked.
“I fell in love with it,” she said. “It’s part of what I do.”
This is Linda’s ninth year in tutoring and her second year tutoring Styles, a 4th grader. Like many tutor-student pairs, they spend the first 45 minutes on reading. During much of the rest of the tutoring evening, the two work on building Styles’ vocabulary.
“We build up our word bank. When he finds a word he doesn’t know, it goes into his word bank. We both use our phones to get the definitions. Then each week, I get him to use the new words in his writing.
“He’s a very bright student,” Linda said. But just like any other student, “he needs encouraging.” When they’re building vocabulary and disagree about how to use a word, she tells him, “OK, prove your point. Then he’ll get out his phone to show me.
“If you give an answer, you need to defend it,” she said.
Linda and Styles also work on Styles’ penmanship and overall presentation of his work. “I tell him: What you present is a presentation of you,” Linda said. “It should be neat, it should be clear, and it should be legible.” She said they’re especially working on making his vowels more recognizable.
Linda said she appreciates the wealth of resources available at Cluster — the books, the age-appropriate magazines, the computers, and the games. “We have so many resources that help the child and help you if you get stuck,” she said. “One of my favorite things is the help that you get from other tutors.”
Linda learned early on that tutors get as much out of tutoring as students. “I’ve actually gained more than I’ve given,” she said. “I always want to give, so it’s a requirement for me to give it back.”
Of the six students she’s tutored in her time at Cluster, “Each one comes from a different background,” she said. “Some are funny. Some are withdrawn. The important thing is talking to them, getting them to expand on their responses.”
Her daughter is a teacher, and Linda has learned not only teaching tips but also the need for programs such as Cluster. “Overall, there is such a need for tutoring for our children,” she said. “The classroom is too large. If you only get 90 minutes a week to do one-to-one tutoring, that’s a great start.”
Linda is retired after 30 years at the now-closed Brach Candy factory on the West Side. She also spends time in two other educational pursuits: She teaches line dancing and computer classes for seniors through the Chicago Department of Aging.
There’s obviously a difference in approach to tutoring a 4th grader and teaching a class of senior citizens.
“With seniors’ computer classes, there’s a disconnect,” Linda said. “Technology has passed some of us by. But I didn’t stop. I continued with the technology.
“With a 4th grader, you only have to show them once or twice. With a senior, they’re a little unsure. You have to take away the fear factor. Just like with Styles, I always ask them, ‘Did you Google this? Did you do a search?’
“I’m told I’m very patient,” she said with a laugh.