The Acakid team is truly blessed to have so many hardworking, talented tutors form our community. Together, we not only improve students’ grades, we also boost their confidence and foster a lifelong passion for learning. We are proud to present one of our fantastic tutors, Sarah Harmon, as our November Tutor of the Month!
Sarah graduated from William & Mary with a major in International Relations and minors in Arabic and economics. Currently, she is completing the year-long Adult Scholarship Program at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. She has been tutoring with us for a year now, but her tutoring career goes back to 2012!
We asked Sarah some questions to get to know her better as a tutor:
1. What are your strengths as a tutor?
My biggest strengths as a tutor are my ability to creatively incorporate my student’s interests into my lesson plans and my ability to push students to explore new perspectives while they master academic challenges. Through Acakid, I have primarily worked with math and English students who happen to also be dancers, video game players, future engineers, children of immigrants, fairy lovers, and more. They enjoy seeing themselves in the material they study while also exploring subjects they have never encountered before.
2. How have you grown as a tutor over the years?
I have come to experience how every student requires a different approach to learning. I’ve enjoyed learning more about how to spark student interest and change my teaching style to better serve the development of my students. For example, I often work with students in high school on college-level readings and we regularly pause when reading the texts together to review pronunciation, the socio-historical context of the book, or the meaning of a complex passage, so that they really understand the material. I have also shown them videos or given them writing assignments that incorporate creative elements, so that they can process the information in several ways.
3. What do you work on with your students?
I currently work with high school English students and we typically complete units that incorporate three areas: mastering a new style of writing, learning challenging vocabulary, and reading an author, perspective, or writing style that my students have never been exposed to before. My students’ favorite subject so far has been creative writing and world building, where they learned to create their own fictional universes and write complex short stories. Currently, we are working through “The Bell Jar,” by Sylvia Plath and discussing mental health and diverse female perspectives in American Literature.
4. What are your students’ goals and how are you helping them reach those goals?
The recent goals of my students have been to improve their overall grades in their courses, to write clear, cogent essays, and to improve their overall reading comprehension. So far, my students have significantly improved in their English courses and I continuously push them to write and read more each week. Whenever I give them an essay assignment, they really enjoy reviewing what they’ve written together to discuss their growth and future improvements to be made. They have also begun reading books from the AP Literature list for fun, along with the books we read together through our lessons.
5. When have you been extremely proud of your students?
Recently, I have been extremely proud of my students when we read “Are Prisons Obsolete?” by Angela Davis together and they wrote their first research-based, argumentative essays. The book was challenging conceptually and academically for my students, but they continuously asked questions, discussed their reservations and perspectives, and did more work outside of class to learn about the prison system in the United States and non-fiction, historical writing. When I read their final essays on the book, I teared up reading how much they had learned in the subject area, but also how they looked to Angela Davis as a leader and a powerful writer to emulate. They incorporated college-level diction and political science terms, they referenced essays by James Baldwin we had previously read together, their sentences flowed eloquently, and they did outside research to develop their ideas. It meant a lot to see how invested they were in learning the material and how they pushed themselves to be better English students.
6. What is your favorite thing about working at Acakid?
My favorite things about Acakid are the flexibility in scheduling clients, the match-making process in pairing students with tutors, and the communicative style of my supervisor. I like that my students feel comfortable providing feedback to me about lessons and that we are able to find a learning schedule that works best for them!
7. What are your passions outside of Acakid?
Outside of Acakid, I am passionate about Middle East and North African studies, cyber policy research, improving access to education for diverse students, and human rights advocacy. I also love to skateboard and roller skate, hike, farm, and explore the outdoors, plan themed events, watch eclectic movies, and experiment with vintage photography.
8. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?
I think it may be useful for you all to know that I have benefitted from a number of scholarships that allowed me to attend college and programs post-undergrad and I would be happy to help students in a similar capacity through Acakid if there is ever interest. My primary job is currently helping Master’s and PhD students from diverse backgrounds apply to universities in the U.S., so I also have experience helping students with the admissions process. Lastly, I have prepped intensively for the GRE and would feel comfortable mentoring students on some subject areas of the test.
We hope that you gained some insight into how to be a great tutor from reading this blog post! Happy Holidays!