Fieldnote, 19 August 2013

First night of tutoring for the school year, first night opened to students. I was the first tutor to show up for the year, and I was welcomed by Betty and Carolina, as well as introduced to the new staff member leading the homework program, Kelly.

Worked with two students, Yaneli, first grader the first. She coded colors, matching colors to numbers. She had difficulties distinguishing certain colors: red, blue, purple. She also needed help recognizing numbers. When I spoke to her in Spanish, she was quick in response. When I asked her about translations of colors and numbers, she had difficulty.

Next I helped Yvonne, one of the twin sisters. She’s in third grade this year.  We worked on math flash cards, two’s and three’s times tables; we build cards from folded and cut paper with her sister. When we finished we had to read for twenty minutes–the instructions for her homework sheet. We chose to read La Vo de Kentucky, the local bilingual newspaper. We read an article about a back-to-school backpack drive that served 8.000 local needy families. There was one line in the article, which we read in English: “One less thing for these families to worry about. Yvonne and I discussed the meaning of the sentence. She understood that poverty meant worries, and that the price of a backpack as being one, albeit small, way to help.

“Because some poor people can’t buy backpacks for school. But me and my sister got new ones because my mom spent a lot of money.”

“Then you’re lucky,” I said.

“She says we cost a lot of money, so she’s not going to buy us McDonald’s for a long time. But in the summer she bought us McDonald’s for breakfast on Mondays. That was good.”