“Keeping Education Flowing”
It’s early on a Tuesday morning, early for sleepy 3rd graders at least. Shelly Fredericksen, a first-year Experience Corps volunteer, waits for her two students to join a Zoom meeting so they can work on a new set of pages in the book they’ve been reading. Their meetings had a brief disruption due to local shelter-in-place orders, and have been reborn in a virtual setting.

When asked what inspired her to continue tutoring virtually, Shelly responded, “Two things really. 1) My third graders and I were in the middle of one of my favorite read aloud books, and I wanted to share it all with them and they really wanted to hear it. And 2) Virtual tutoring on Zoom was something new to learn about and try. We all need to figure out how to keep education flowing, and if virtual learning helps keep kids on the educational path then I want to contribute.”

On her screen, a face pops into the meeting with a delighted smile, mirroring Shelly’s own expression. She greets the student and they check in on what they have been doing since their last session. After a few minutes of catching up, the other student arrives and they get into their activities for the day. Shelly helps model some ‘sticky’ words for the students, explaining the pronunciation differences between the words sculptors and sculptures, and away they go!

Having raised two children of her own, some of Shelly’s fondest memories are those when she would read to her kids or have them read to her. She originally saw an ad for Experience Corps in the newspaper two years before retiring, and made a note to herself that it was something she’d like to try once she retired as a way of sharing the joy of reading with children, as well as continuing her own learning. Back in the tutoring session, Shelly checks with the students on their understanding of what they are reading and once they finish their reading games, they move onto their read aloud selection. A gleeful flutter runs through the session, and the students perk up to hear what happens next with the students at Wayside School. Shelly’s students revisit what they remember from the previous chapter and occasionally interject a similar story from their own lives — stories which Shelly admits are her favorite part of the session. She reads with enthusiasm, occasionally has to stop herself from laughing, and lets the students join in chorally when the teacher writes a student’s name on the board “under the word DISCIPLINE.” The session ends with laughs, some discussion of the story, and some predictions of what shenanigans the characters will get into next time.

“So I’ll see you both on Thursday at 10:00, right?” she asks.

“Yeah! Bye Ms. Shelly!” they respond, and with a swarm of waving hands and smiling faces, the call ends.

Nicely done, Shelly. Way to keep education flowing!