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2024 Volunteer Appreciation Month Spotlight Series

April 1, 2024

Volunteer Appreciation Month is an exciting opportunity for Heart Math Tutoring to show our gratitude for the 1,400+ volunteer tutors supporting just over 1,300 elementary students across the Carolinas! Heart tutors dedicate an hour of their time each week to ensure students in Charlotte, Charleston, and Winston-Salem are building necessary foundational math skills and the academic confidence they need for long-term success. Tutors have a lasting impact on their students’ education, and we’re excited to highlight a few of Heart’s incredible volunteers and community partners this month!

Week 1: Catherine Fischer and Kaitlin Jorgenson

Since the 2023-24 school year celebrates Heart Math Tutoring’s 10th year serving students as a non-profit organization, we wanted to kick off our Volunteer Appreciation Month Spotlights with a tutor that has been with Heart since the beginning, Catherine Fischer! As one of Heart’s first volunteers, Catherine helped pilot the program beginning in 2010 through her involvement with Social Venture Partners, and she has continued to volunteer as a tutor and assessor since.

Next, we’re shining the spotlight on first year tutor, Kaitlin Jorgenson! Kaitlin recently moved to Charlotte and wanted to get involved in the community, so she became a Heart tutor. She shared that when tutoring her students she most enjoys “seeing their excitement and the progress they have in not just math but their confidence around learning. We always have fun in our time together weekly.”

Thank you, Catherine and Kaitlin!

Week 2: Shakitha Barner and Shannon Thornton

In January 2022, Heart volunteers began working with students for the first time in Charleston, SC. One of those first volunteers is our next feature tutor, Shakitha Barner! Shakitha has continued to tutor since and also serves on Heart’s Advisory Board in Charleston. She shared, “I enjoy seeing the excitement my students show when they realize that they have learned something new. I enjoy building relationships with my students and encouraging them to challenge themselves. It’s my pleasure to remind my students how awesome they are.”

In the 2023-24 school year, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools became Heart’s newest partner district. Volunteers began providing one-on-one math instruction to students at Bolton and Easton Elementary Schools, and we want to highlight a Winston-Salem volunteer that has doubled her impact by tutoring students at both partner schools, Shannon Thornton! Heart’s Winston-Salem Program Manager, Freda Robinson, shared, “When I let Shannon know that we had students at Bolton Elementary School needing a tutor, she did not hesitate to begin tutoring two additional students within the week. She also reached out to her friends and recruited more tutors!” Shannon has also helped administer assessments to Heart students.

We are grateful for Shakitha and Shannon!

Week 3: Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and Ally Financial

This week, we will be shining the spotlight on two of Heart’s community volunteer partners, starting with Friendship Missionary Baptist Church! The church has partnered with Heart since 2017, and currently, 16 Friendship volunteers are providing individualized math tutoring to students each week!

While Friendship tutors are volunteering at several different schools across Charlotte, three tutor each week at University Park Creative Arts School (UPCA). Heart Program Coordinator at UPCA, Laura Giovannini, says, “Our Friendship volunteers provide much more than math instruction, and it shows in the relationships they have developed with their students.  I am grateful for the consistency, dedication, and passion shown to our students and for the commitment Friendship volunteers have shown to Heart Math Tutoring!”

Friendship’s Social Justice Ministry (SJM) encourages members to volunteer in the community. SJM Chair, Andrea Betaudier, shares, “The Social Justice Ministry of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church celebrates and supports our youth both within the church and the Charlotte community at large…we encourage the membership to volunteer as tutors because we believe that tutoring is one of the best antidotes to the negative trends that often plague our youth. We view Heart as a well purposed and valuable colleague in this joint effort to provide the best learning opportunities to our students.”

Heart’s next Volunteer Appreciation Month Spotlight is volunteer partner Ally Financial! Ally has partnered with Heart since 2020, and they have tripled their number of volunteers over the past year with 12 Ally tutors currently providing students with weekly math instruction and mentorship!

When asked what drives Ally to encourage employee volunteerism, Ally Manager of Corporate Citizenship, Brianna Alexander, said, “Ally is committed to the betterment of the communities in which we work, live and serve, and our employee giving program reflects that commitment. We support our teammates rallying behind the causes that are most important to them. Education is the pinnacle of economic mobility for all, and we are proud to support nonprofits like Heart!”

Ally volunteers exemplify the company’s commitment to communities when tutoring with Heart; dedicated Ally tutor Sarah Haley shared, “I have been a Heart Tutor for eleven years, which tells you how much I love and value my tutoring experience. Working with Heart has been so easy from day one. The organization partners with CMS and leverages an easy-to-follow curriculum that gamifies learning and makes tutoring so fun! Year after year, I feel fulfilled by my volunteer experience with Heart and know that I have a meaningful and measurable impact on students right here in my own community. I appreciate that the organization meets students where they are, measures progress throughout the school year, and shares tutor impact individually with each volunteer. The impact and fun that I have is what keeps me coming back every year!”

Thank you to Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, Ally Financial, and all of Heart’s volunteer partners, for your commitment to making a difference in the lives of students!

Week 4: Alexandra LaMotte and Tiarah Washington

For the final week of Volunteer Appreciation Month, we want to shine the spotlight on two of Heart Math Tutoring’s college student volunteers! We are grateful for the college students who invest time into their universities’ local elementary schools and would like to highlight their dedication, starting with College of Charleston volunteer Alexandra LaMotte!

Alexandra is a first-year tutor and learned about volunteering with Heart through the Honors College at the College of Charleston. She enjoys seeing her students’ progress during tutoring and shared, “What I love most about tutoring my students is how excited and confident they get when they start to deeply understand concepts and bang out correct answers left and right. Solid high-fives always follow their accomplishments. It is so inspiring to see my students grow each session through their hard work.”

Next, we’re highlighting UNC Charlotte volunteer, Tiarah Washington! Tiarah has supported students with Heart for two years, and this year has volunteered to administer student assessments in addition to her weekly tutoring. She first learned about volunteering as a tutor through UNC Charlotte’s Black Student Union, and Tiarah has since helped spread the word on campus to connect more students with tutors!

Thank you Alexandra, Tiarah, and ALL our amazing Heart volunteers this year! Supporting positive learning experiences and student growth is a community effort, and we could not do this work without you! We are grateful to you for volunteering your time and talents to provide tutoring to students in Charlotte, Charleston, and Winston-Salem!

Interested in becoming a volunteer? Sign up to tutor in the 2024-25 school year here!


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