Junior Translator Program Has Launched!
Thank you to Nessar, who is successfully leading our new Junior Translator program! This is super helpful and we’re all incredibly grateful for his help!
The Junior Translator Program pairs multilingual, high achieving middle schoolers to serve as translators for high school aged content experts. Together they provide tutoring to refugee and newcomer students. “There are so many talented, skilled kids in younger grades who want to help their communities, and this is a great way for them to be involved and see the value they can add,” Alexander reported. “Being fluent in two languages, let alone three-plus like many of our junior translators are, is really impressive and valuable. Our junior translators have something tremendous to offer the world. It’s great to give them the opportunity to use their knowledge and skills to serve others.”
Willow Way Tutoring & Enrichment is all about taking the knowledge and skills a person has gained and using it to better the world. Our newest volunteers, while young, fit right in and are already impressively impactful. Nessar, one of our top multilingual tutors over the past 3 years, is leading and managing this program. He recruits, trains, supports, and monitors all of our junior translators, which is no easy task. Thank you again, Nessar, for your impactful contribution to Willow Way Tutoring & Enrichment. This program would not be possible without you!
AP Prep Program Launched
In our tutoring program, we have encountered students from schools with limited resources to support students' efforts in advanced courses. We informally ran a drop in tutoring program in 2021 for a few AP subjects, but are happy to announce that we now have a formal program that can support students in 15 AP courses. Every Sunday, for five hours, under-resourced students in these courses can drop-in for free AP homework or test prep support with a tutor who has obtained a perfect score on that test.
Congratulations to our 2021 PVSA Winners!
Congratulations to our tutors who earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2021! That’s an incredibly difficult task to do, so fantastic job to all who accomplished it! You guys are awesome, inspiring people and you have made such a change in these communities. What’s all this about? The President’s Volunteer Service Award was created by President Bush to, according to him, “recognize the important role of volunteers in America’s strength and national identity.” The award is to honor those individuals whose service has positively impacted communities all across the United States and inspire others to take action and serve as well. Since then, every US President after Bush has continued the program, and so we can now say we are proud to announce our 2021 President Volunteer Service Award earners: Nohemi Vela Guevara, Erik Uerkwitz, Nessar Hekmatjo, Walid Jailani, Alice Lee, Ella Stone, Alexander Yue, and Avery Yue.
Halloween Treat Bags!
We thought it would be fun to create and share Halloween treat bags with our refugee and newcomer students, many of whom were experiencing the holiday for the first time and had a lot of questions about it! This was a big hit last year with the students and, with students back to in-person learning, it would be a lot easier to pass them out! We assembled 100 treat bags and opened 500 glow band bracelets to share with the students and their siblings. The students had a lot of fun looking inside their bags, trying on the spider rings and sampling some of the candy. The glow bracelets, though, were the biggest hit with kids and parents alike as they snapped the sticks and watched the liquid change into a neon color that glowed in the dark!
Supplies Drives for Our New Neighbors
With at least 2,500 Afghan refugees expected to arrive in Sacramento over the next few weeks, we wanted to know how we could help welcome our new neighbors and soon-to-be students. In our meeting with the refugee team for our community, we asked what we could do to support their arrivals and learned that the team’s biggest worry was having the items they knew would be needed and in short supply. Some of the items were not a surprise. Furniture, clothing, household and personal care items were noted. However, we also learned that we should expect some of our new neighbors to have mobility issues unable to be addressed and provided for during the first few weeks of their arrival. The team would love to be able to loan out wheelchairs, walkers, and canes for those weeks of waiting, if they had access to those things. In response, we did a supply drive and were able to donate furniture, clothing, household items, and personal supplies for the refugee team to distribute! Wheelchairs and other mobility helpers were harder to procure, but Dr. Holly Haight and the Peterson family came to the rescue by donating wheelchairs, canes and walkers to the team. Thank you to everyone who donated, organized, and transported these items!
Free Physicals Program Launched!
This fall, we learned that many of our students would be dropped from their free, after-school soccer program unless they could obtain records of a sports physical. These soccer programs are enormously impactful to our students, as they enable kids to develop team building skills, create friendships, and experience a feeling of belonging and connection to their school.
In response, we found doctors and physician’s assistants willing to donate a few hours of their time after work. The school district that runs this program provided space for us to conduct the physicals and donated additional translators to assist parents in completing the health history portions of the form. We provided 3 medical doctors and 1 physician’s assistant, medical supplies like stethoscopes and scales, and volunteers to help measure weight, height, and blood pressure, as well as play games with the students while they waited their turn with the doctors.
Our first event was a huge success and we have since added additional sessions over the school year to provide physicals to any students participating in other free sports programs, such as basketball. Willow Way Tutoring & Enrichment has now provided over 800 free sports physicals to our refugee, newcomer, and low-income students across multiple dates this school year! A huge thank you to all of the volunteers who took time out of their days to serve, and a special thanks to all the doctors who have worked tirelessly for our students and make this program possible.
Thoughts and Prayers!
As many of you know, our community is home to the largest number of Afghan refugees nationwide. However, we learned we still have 27 SJUSD students from 19 families who are currently trapped in Afghanistan. The refugee team from the school district is doing everything they can to try to get them home, but it is a complicated situation. In our community, 1,700 of our students enrolled are of Afghan origin, many of whom return to visit family each summer. This past summer was no different. Please join us in praying and sending good thoughts to our neighbors and students trying to return home.
Welcome to a New School Year!
Welcome to a new school year! We cannot wait to meet and start working with our refugee and newcomer students! We will provide multilingual academic and SEL support from 3-8pm each day. We will serve students in over 30 schools and aim to provide more than 3000 hours of support for newcomer and refugee students. We are looking forward to making new friends and changing lives, including our own! We have been working hard behind the scenes to create fliers in students’ native languages that teachers will pass out in their classes, code an automated tutoring appointment reminder system with information in the students’ native languages to bolster attendance, code an appointment scheduling system, and progress report tracker to make monthly progress reports to referring teachers more efficient and impactful. A huge thank you to our tutors and translators who made this happen!! Let’s go!!
Year One is a Wrap!
Willow Way Tutoring began working with the refugee and newcomer students of San Juan Unified School District in mid-June, 2020. We started as a small team of 6 tutors providing support from 9am-3pm each day in a virtual summer school program. During the school year, the number of students needing multilingual academic support grew and so did we. A year later, we were a strong team of 30+ tutors speaking 12+ languages serving 16+ schools. Together we provided over 2500 hours of support for newcomer and refugee students. In these hours, friendships were formed and lives were changed -for both the students and the tutors. In our off hours, we provided in-person events and enrichment activities. The work behind the scenes was immense and we thank all who helped make this past year a huge success. We are already looking forward to the year ahead and the impact we can continue to make.
Ella Wins Contest in Landslide!
Congratulations to Ella Stone who won our Outstanding Tutor of the Month competition! Ella put together weekly canva fliers and sent them to her team of students via text and email, writing in their own language to encourage their attendance in tutoring. In one month's time, she sent over 60 such messages! We asked Ella to share a bit about herself and what she likes about volunteering with Willow Way Tutoring. Here's what she shared...
Hi, my name is Ella Stone. I am a 15-year-old who enjoys outdoor activities and having a good time. I believe learning can be fun as well. With a love for knowledge and assisting others, I intend to earn my Bachelor’s in Mathematics at 17 and my Master’s in Teaching at 19.
As a volunteer with WWTutoring, it brings me joy to see students understand topics they previously struggled with. More importantly, WWTutoring students find a fun and welcoming environment where they can fit in and be themselves. Whether our students need assistance with a homework assignment or are simply joining us to hang out, we are always happy to see them.
Ella is clearly on her way to becoming an impactful teacher and we feel lucky to have her on our team at Willow Way Tutoring. Thank you, Ella!!
Spring Park Day!
For our students, spring arrived with the start of many new great things, such as in-person schooling for a few hours each week. We celebrated by holding an in-person park day to share some of our favorite spring traditions with our refugee & newcomer friends. We filled plastic eggs with candy and hid them in a grassy field for the students to find. We played music and outdoor park games such as soccer, Simon Says, & created a fun filled obstacle course complete with a crazy Limbo contest.
Back to School Clothes
With the promise of a return to in-person learning and with it, the exchange of pjs for school clothes, we thought of our newcomer & refugee students and how they might be feeling about attending their new schools for the first time in-person. We thought some of them might feel like us and want a great outfit for their first day back. We definitely prefer a shopping trip in a cool friend's closet over a trip to the mall. So that's just what we did here. We pulled together boxes of clothing donated by our very favorite and most stylish friends and shared them with our students. We hope they loved the selections as much as we did!
Despite all of the loss we've experienced lately from the pandemic, there is still a lot to be grateful for. So we wanted to do our best to share some Thanksgiving spirit with our refugee & newcomer students who are new to this American holiday. We bought and assembled Thanksgiving bags filled with candy & other fun treats. We then bundled up so we could safely pass out the goodie bags at a local library's parking lot. Later, we hosted a zoom session to watch, “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and played games on zoom with our students and some of their family members!
Celebrating Halloween safely in a pandemic is tricky, but we wanted to give it a try in order to share our favorite Halloween traditions with our refugee & newcomer students who were curious about this new holiday. We bought and assembled Halloween bags filled with candy, glow sticks, plastic spiders, spooky stickers, & other treats. We also decorated a car and then passed out our goodie bags to our students at the local library. Later, we hosted a zoom session to watch, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and played pictionary and Bingo with our students.