Tutor-Student Spotlight, Fall 2015

The school year is now in full swing, with winter not far ahead. This tutor spotlight is shining on Coleen, a retired institutional stock trader, who has been a dedicated volunteer Invest in Youth for over 17 years. Coleen has been tutoring Jalaya for the last 2 years, and is excited to continue working with her as she is now a fifth grader.


How did you first hear about Invest in Youth and what made you interested in volunteering?
In 1997, the year she started the tutoring program, Harriett Morton came to my brokerage firm and made a presentation about her vision for the tutoring program and her belief that it was a great volunteer opportunity for people in the financial industry, who often have work hours that end mid-afternoon. It appealed to me on many levels, worked well with my schedule, and I started tutoring in January 1998.

How long have you been working Jalaya?

We started working together when she was in third grade. She is bright, interesting, fun and a pleasure to have tutored for these years.

What was your favorite subject/part of school at Jalaya’s age?

My favorite subject was reading. I’ve been impressed that Jalaya is very interested in reading about nature and animals. My interests tended more toward stories [such as] the “Little House” books, “Nancy Drew,” etc.
What is something that you and Jalaya have connected on?

Jalaya is a good athlete and it’s been great to talk to her about that. She is competitive, which shows up when we have time to play a game. Also, I noticed immediately that Jalaya is focused on doing her homework, which then allows us to move on to other important skill building and interesting tasks.
What is one piece of advice you would have given your younger self?

Pay closer attention in class. I loved to chat with friends.
What is the most rewarding part about tutoring?

The connection that develops between student and tutor is special and unique with each child. Knowing that you are helping a child with their learning process and watching their progress is indeed rewarding. Many of the students in the IIY program truly want, need and appreciate the assistance and the relationship.

What are you looking forward to about working with Jalaya during the school year?

It will be our last year together, which is bittersweet. I’m hoping that I can help Jalaya be ready and excited about moving on to middle school.


Thanks for Another Year at Invest in Youth! A 2013-2014 School Year Recap

10322839_10152488475004363_679741546570182669_nWritten by Alison Allen, Program Director

This school year flew by! It has been a year full of enthusiastic and energetic students, lots of smiles, figuring out new ways of teaching {and learning!} elementary math concepts and meeting exciting new people who have joined the program, whether as a student or tutor. Every day provided new challenges and opportunities for our students, tutors, and of course for me, the lucky program director.

Invest in Youth is a magical program that never ceases to amaze and impress me. The best part of my job is when I get to stop for a moment during a tutoring session and just look around at what is happening in front of me. It is truly incredible to witness a room full of adults sitting in tiny chairs, smiling as they work through a problem or read a story with extreme expression to an enthralled 3rd, 4th or 5th grader. You all know the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” I get to see this truly in action each day at tutoring.

One of my favorite moments this year happened at Bagley Elementary. A fifth grade student in our program did not know how to ride a bicycle, yet his whole school was participating in a two-week bicycle unit in gym class. His tutor, David, was asked if he might be able to help out and teach his student how to ride a bike. Certainly this is a bit of an unusual circumstance but it resulted in the student becoming a bike rider beaming with confidence. I will never forget the look of true pride on his face when he walked back in the door after his successful attempt at riding a bike.

It’s moments like that, or watching our students who struggle to focus and stay on task become engaged through a book that excites them that make me sit back and smile, knowing what a difference our program is making in the lives of these 90-some students we work with.

This school year our program saw a number of exciting changes. Students and tutors were provided with an opportunity to build and test catapults that they made out of pencils, tape, rulers and other basic classroom supplies. Students learned basic principles of physics, as well as design and re-design. Students and tutors alike had fun in a hands-on, engaging way.

We received a very generous donation of Kindle Fire tablets from one of our tutors, Laura Orser, and her husband Peter. The Orsers donated the tablets to be used as a resource for students to offer another way of keeping them engaged in a fun, hands-on way.

The 2013-2014 school year marked our first year of providing tutoring at Madrona K-8 where we worked with a total of 9 students. At our other locations we served 18-24 students at a time.

We have some new milestones that we are looking forward to for next year. We will be expanding our program to provide free tutoring at Fairmount Park Elementary, in addition to increasing the number of students we will be servicing at each school. All of our tutoring locations, except for our newest, will accommodate 20 students and tutors, which will bring the total number of students served to more than 105.

Thanks to our volunteer tutors, on-site coordinators, Invest in Youth board and committee members, students and staff at each of our partner schools. We couldn’t fulfill our mission without each of these components.

Here’s to 2014-2015 and beyond!



Look Out Below! A Recap of Invest in Youth’s Partnership with Pacific Science Center

WP_20140505_017Invest in Youth partnered with the Pacific Science Center to offer a special science experiment to enhance recent tutoring sessions. The Pacific Science Center facilitated a day of hands-on catapult building and launching for students and tutors to participate in.

Students and tutors alike were engaged and delighted at the change of pace the catapult experiment brought to the tutoring session. Students were taught basic physics principals like kinetic and potential energy, and what a simple machine is. Before setting them loose, the instructor discussed catapults and their function. The students were then charged with building a catapult using pencils, rulers, tape, rubber bands, paper cups and spoons. The goal was to build a catapult that would launch a Ping-Pong ball the farthest. WP_20140505_001Many student/tutor groups thought outside the box on how to create their catapult. Some groups followed the model that the Pacific Science Center instructor provided, while others made complex catapults that deviated a bit more from the example. Tutors often took a backseat role, asking the students’ questions about what they thought each step would result in, while watching the students learn from the process; other tutors were very open to sharing their opinions and ideas in the brainstorming and re-building phases.

After the students and tutors built their catapults they had the chance to test them out with a Ping-Pong ball, then go back to their workstation and make any adjustments before re-testing and hopefully launching their ping pong ball farther than the first time. There were some clear winners at each school, but most importantly, the students and tutors learned a lot and had fun together. WP_20140505_006WP_20140505_003

Invest in Youth Receives Kindle Donation!

Thanks to a generous donation by Laura and Peter Orser, students at four Invest in Youth sites will now have access to Kindle Fire tablets to use during their tutoring sessions. Kindle Fires will be used to engage students in a variety of ways, from reading books to playing educational video games like Basic Facts Bingo or Math Slicer.


Invest in Youth purchased four Kindle Fires with the donation from the Orsers, along with 50 books and 15 applications to be used on the tablets.  The books were selected at a variety of reading levels to suit the needs and interests of all students. The apps provide an engaging and unique opportunity for students to practice basic concepts like subtraction, fractions, telling time and spelling.

Tutor and board chairwoman, Mona Delgado, used a tablet with her student at Roxhill Elementary to read an e-book about the Titanic.  As they were finishing up her student commented that he couldn’t believe how quickly the session went that day because he was so engrossed in enlarging the photos and discussing the text with features available in the e-reader.

Students across the program are having similar experiences.  Instead of continued re-direction, frequent giggles were heard this week when Nick Slater was reading one of the Captain Underpants books with his student at Madrona K-8.  Bagley Elementary student, Keegan, got a break from the usual flashcards and played Multiplication Bingo for basic facts practice.

Laura came up with the idea for the donation after she brought her own Kindle Fire to use with her student at Thurgood Marshall Elementary.  Her student is easily distracted but when Laura downloaded a book for her to read she noticed her student became focused and stayed on-task for the duration of the session.  Laura figured if her student benefitted that much from the tablet that there had to be other students who would have similar experiences. The Orsers are long-time Invest in Youth supporters, with Laura being a former board member and current tutor at two schools.

Thank you for your continued support, Orser family!

DSCN0436IIY kindle 1 victoria iiy kindle 2 richelle (t) and elxyss

Tutor/Student Spotlight: Jane + Victoria

Happy Thursday, everyone!  All of us at Invest in Youth have been excited about the signs that spring has sprung.  Amid the return of cherry blossoms and baseball season, our tutors and students are hard at work learning as much as possible before the end of the year.

This is our second Tutor/Student Spotlight and we’re excited to introduce you to one of our tutors, Jane, and the 4th grade student she works with, Victoria.

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Questions for Victoria:

  • What is your favorite subject and why?  Math, because I am really good at it and it’s fun.

  • What is your favorite thing about tutoring and why?  I like studying with someone – it’s cool.

  • Where were you born?  In Seattle at Swedish Hospital.

  • What do you want to be when you grow up?  A teacher because I think I would be good one.

  • What is your favorite book and why?  Stolen Children.  I like it is because it is a mystery and is very suspenseful!

  • What is your favorite food?  Jolly Ranchers – watermelon flavor.


Questions for Jane:

  • How long have you been volunteering with Invest in Youth?  This is my first year.

  • What is your favorite thing about tutoring and why?  I really like hanging out with young people because they make me happy and make me laugh!

  • Where are you from?  I am from Seattle.  I have lived a couple of other places but this is where I am from and where I live now.

  • What is your favorite food?  I love sushi and I love real Coca Cola.

  • What is your favorite book and why?  The Help.  I loved how each character seemed to get what they deserved in the end!

  • What was your favorite subject in school?  Definitely reading and spelling.

  • What is your favorite animal and why?  Dogs, because they are so trusting and loyal.

  • If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?  I would like to visit Heaven, to see my Dad, but I am not ready to stay there!

Thank you for your hard work, Jane and Victoria! We appreciate all that you do!