In a Year of Loss, SDRT Made Gains

Not many of us can say we have made gains during 2020- a year of loss, disappointment and setbacks. But, Hussein did. We hope you will consider supporting SDRT with a year-end gift so that SDRT can continue to help students like Hussein to make gains, even during this unpredictable time.

Hussein is a fourth grade SDRT student who has been carrying around a heavy load with him for over a year.

A tutor discovered early in 2020 that her student, who was stumbling to read every other word on the first grade book they read, also carried around several chapter books in his backpack each and every day. He was happy to lug around the weight of these books, each of them bouncing around uncomfortably as he sprinted up and down the halls. It saved him the embarrassment of being seen with the ‘baby books’ he was learning to decode. It was a way for him to feel like he fit in with his peers. Keeping those chapter books in there also reminded him of his goal. Maybe at some point, those books would no longer weigh him down. He hoped to soon take them out of their dark, tattered home and read them fluently and proudly.

During 2020, it happened! Those chapter books came out of hiding. Hussein and his tutor met multiple times per week (through Zoom, our new tutoring platform) and Hussein finished an entire chapter book. And, he didn’t read just one. He has completed 10!  It wasn’t just books that came out of hiding. A whole new kid has emerged. A confident and proud one. One that will go back to the classroom one day carrying chapter books he can take out and actually enjoy.

It wasn’t just books that came out of hiding. A whole new kid has emerged.

We don’t always fully realize the loads that our kids carry with them. Shame, embarrassment, isolation, a feeling of being so far behind, the list goes on. Add that to their rocky beginnings in lands of war or desperate refugee camps. With their jovial spirits and wide smiles, we sometimes forget about the loads they carry.

At SDRT, we see tutors that believe in kids who don’t believe in themselves. We see kids constantly blow us away with how hard they are willing to fight, even with these heavy loads on their backs. 

The effects of Covid have just added to these heavy loads. Many of our students take care of younger siblings in addition to their own studies. They solve their family’s tech issues, translate for their parents, and worry about what will happen next with their parents’ jobs, rent payments, and so much more.

SDRT, especially during this COVID season, is a place where kids can take these loads off of their backs and be free. It is a safe space where our students can work to catch up to their peers, without any actual peers around. They can ask questions about distance learning and get much needed help with assignments they didn’t understand. We can check in on their progress and remind them of what they have due. And, maybe most importantly, they can connect to their tutors, who they know care about them deeply.

Please consider making a year-end donation to SDRT today so that other students like Hussein can make gains during this ongoing Covid season. We have fully converted our tutoring operation to Zoom and even though we are not in-person, we still serve 150 students every week with 1:1 tutoring. We plan to do this until it is safe to be back in-person again. 

GO HERE to Make Your SDRT Year-End Donation Today!

About Melissa Phillips

Melissa Phillips is one of the founders of San Diego Refugee Tutoring and currently serves as its Program Director. She has four incredible children, many years of teaching experience, and a supportive husband who also works in education.

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