What brought you to Grace Outreach?
When asked what I plan to do in retirement, I replied without hesitation, “I’d like to tutor math to people getting their HS equivalency.” For years I had had this desire and my retirement 5 years ago gave me the time to do it. The problem was, I didn’t know where. In the meantime, I started to volunteer as a financial coach through Community Services Society. After a year, CSS asked if I’d be willing to transfer to Grace Outreach and provide financial coaching to the women they served. “What sort of service does Grace Outreach provide?” I asked. When I heard that they assisted women in getting their HS equivalency, it felt like divine providence.
At GO I immediately felt the positive energy, and the photos of scores of successful graduates on the wall convinced me that this is where I wanted to volunteer. I called Andrew and told him I definitely wanted to work at GO, but not as a financial coach. I wanted to be a math tutor! We tried it out, and it worked! At the end of my first year, I was presented at graduation with a special volunteer award. It was such an honor, and it showed me that I had in fact found the place I was meant to be.
What is your educational background?
I majored in math at Upsala College, and after graduation started working at an actuarial consulting firm. After much struggling (I have experience with standardized tests!!) I passed enough to become certified as an Enrolled Actuary. , I later enrolled at Stern School of Business at NYU and received an MBA in Accounting, attending classes in the evening (I know how exhausting it is to study and work at the same time).
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Belleville, NJ, a small working class town just north of Newark, and the Cherry Blossom Capital of the Northeast! My parents were the children of Italian immigrants and grew up during the Depression. Like many of that generation, they completed 6th grade and then found work. Both of my parents were clear that we were expected to go to college, and my parents are proud that my siblings and I all have advanced degrees.
What types of relationships have you formed with students and staff at Grace Outreach?
The staff at GO is so great. I’ve been with GO about 3 years now, and have a warm, supportive relationship with everyone, especially the other tutors. Lisa is the best, so solid in her job, and fun to work and play with. Most recently, Nicole, Bintou and now Stephanie and I coordinate so that Math inthe tutoring room is always well supported. I have learned a lot from watching them teach.
With the students, although my relationship remains professional, I do like to share some personal stories that either illuminate a math theory, or lighten up the mood after a long day. I sometimes put on music and dance a bit. They get a kick out of seeing this old lady grooving to a current song. A recent favorite is Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass.
What do you like about tutoring?
Working in the tutoring room gives me the opportunity to focus on a small group of students and work one-on-one. I enjoy helping each woman find that “aha moment” when struggling with a math problem.
Being a bit of a ham, I enjoy the opportunity to work at the board, and explain new concepts.
The graduation ceremony in June is so wonderful, beautifully done and touching. It gives us a chance to see the results of our labors and to celebrate with our students and their families. I never miss it.
The staff at GO is excellent! As a volunteer, I have had the chance to assist a number of our teachers and tutors. I am gratified to observe that each takes her work very seriously and is committed to helping our students. The staff is very passionate about our mission. All of this makes me very proud to be part of the GO team.