Nurturing Literacy Tutors

Dresden Smith joined the McCarthy Center as an intern, and has come full circle in less than a year – taking on the role of Literacy Program Coordinator. She discusses this experience and her trabsition in this week’s blog.

I’m very excited to take on the role of Literacy Program Coordinator for Engage San Francisco. After interning with this program for 6 months and having the opportunity to create relationships with both the USF students and the children they work with, I was eager to continue. In the Literacy Program we place USF students as tutors at various K-5 in-school and afterschool programs in the Western Addition. Our goal is for our tutors to work in community with these school programs to create excitement around learning and reading. 

 This is important work to me personally because in college I struggled to navigate the education system as a person of color. My undergraduate experience was flooded with feelings of imposter syndrome, like I didn’t belong there. I came to the University of San Francisco to study Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA), but through the McCarthy center I’ve been able to draw connections all the way through the education system to the very beginning. I’m honored to work with this community and share in their mission of educational equity.

As a young professional it’s fun for me to work with college students, since so recently I was one of them. We have many similarities and many differences. One minute we’re gossiping about Alex leaving Grey’s Anatomy and the next they’re making me feel old by referencing Tik-Tok, an app that must’ve missed my age group. As their supervisor, it’s important that my students trust me and know that I see them as humans rather than employees; the ‘fun and games’ are a big part of that. By modeling a student centered, empathetic approach to work and professional relationships, I’m hoping they will do the same in their work with children. 

Through our semi-monthly meetings, tutors will be able to come together and study works like Duncan-Andrade’s Note to Educators: Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete. I read this article in my first HESA course and it really helped to set the tone for how I wanted to approach my work with K-5 literacy. Duncan-Andrade talks about the importance of hope in urban-schools and how educators can employ critical hope to help their students combat structural and institutional inequities. Through discussion and engagement our tutors can reflect on their role in this partnership and move towards more informed practices. I aspire for them to grow as social justice advocates and create meaningful relationships with the local community, so that together we can make reading fun.  

I want to bring my personal passions for equity, empathy, and social justice to my new position. As a graduate student, I know how essential it is for our work to be grounded in theory and research. I want the Literacy Program’s goals to be intentional and pursued with critical thought so we can do our part in promoting equity. 

America Readsenagage san franciscohigher educationliteracyWestern Addition

jgpearson • February 21, 2020

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