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By Steve Dunham
ANSER Transmissions, November-December 1999, copyright 1999 Analytic Services. Used by permission.
Mrs. Hottle! the kids all scream when Joyce walks into the classroom. Actually, Joyce is not married, but she is a parent figure to the fourth and fifth graders she tutors at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia. They are so enthusiastic, she says. They want to learn, and they love the attention. The kids get individual English lessons from Joyce one hour a week as part of ANSERs Partnerships in Education Program.
The pupils have English as a second language, and Joyce provides high-intensity language training (HILT), though she points out that high-intensity doesnt mean complicated. Everything is basic. I just talk to them. Its amazing what they can pick up.
Working with Joyce, the pupils read and write stories at the first- or second-grade level. The pictures help explain the words, says Joyce.
Patrick Henry Elementary School uses tutors for first, second, and third grades in the morning and for fourth and fifth grades in the afternoon. The fifth graders especially need help as they prepare for middle school. Volunteers can be a lunch buddy, a classroom buddy, or an after-school buddy. Joyce is a classroom buddy. She helps children in the classroom with reading, spelling, and writing. Usually they sit together and read a story, and then the pupil writes a few sentences about it to show comprehension.
Six years ago, James Bellora, then an ANSER editor and cartoonist, persuaded Joyce to try tutoring. They worked together for a year and a half, and Joyce has been doing it ever since. (James continued tutoring for two and a half years after he left ANSER.)
Besides the reward of seeing the childrens English improve, as well as the acclaim she gets when she walks into the classroom, Joyce has received many tokens of affection from her pupils. At the end of each school year and at Christmas she gets handmade cards from the kids. One year she bought them travel games and candy canes. One boy gave her a card that read, I dont like peppermint. I sold the candy cane to my sister for two bucks. Joyce said she wouldnt give him any more candy canes if he didnt like them, but he still wanted themhe liked making money.
Joyce also likes tutoring at Patrick Henry Elementary School because its in her neighborhood, and she believes in supporting ones neighborhood.
Anyone whos interested is welcome to go with her and see what its like, says Joyce. You can also contact Kermit Burnett, ANSERs official point of contact for Patrick Henry Elementary School.
*A present participle used as a noun, such as tutoring in Joyce likes tutoring.