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Staff Spotlight!

November 5, 2020

Heart Tutoring is so grateful to everyone on our team for their hard work every year, and especially this year as we transition to supporting students virtually! Keep reading to learn more about some Heart staff members who are working behind the scenes to help make the program possible.

Alexandra Blackwood

As a Program Coordinator, I serve as the liaison between my school site, school staff, students, volunteer tutors and Heart staff. I help tutors navigate our curriculum and monitor student progress. I decided to work for Heart because I feel strongly about creating educational opportunities for students. Heart creates those vital opportunities and also brings our community into the work.

Best vacation you’ve ever been on?

The best vacation I’ve ever been on was going to Prague, Vienna and Salzburg with my church choir and getting to sing in some of the historic churches in these cities. Visiting Mozart’s childhood home, touring a salt mine and eating delicious food were other perks!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I enjoy exercising, reading, singing and laughing with friends.

What is your favorite thing to do in Charlotte?

My favorite thing to do in Charlotte is attend musicals at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center uptown.

Jowette Bobray

I serve as an Outreach and Program Coordinator. In my role, I support volunteer recruitment by reaching out and engaging with the local community. In addition, I also serve as a Program Coordinator at Joseph W Grier Elementary where I have had the pleasure of being part of the Cardinal family for two years! My favorite part of my role is working with students! Specifically the students I tutor one-on-one as it is way for me to slow and down and zoom into one student’s experience – get to know them, support them, learn from them, and have fun!

What is a place you’d like to travel someday?


Favorite song/artist/album?

All things Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson!

What is your favorite thing to do in Charlotte?

Eat! There are so many wonderful restaurants. Eating never gets old!

What is something most people don’t know about you?

 I play 4ish instruments! (piano, clarinet, cello, flute, and some percussion)

Sarah Cover

I am one of the Program Managers with Heart. In addition to working with PCs and principals at our partner schools, I also oversee our curriculum and event materials, as well as help with curriculum updates. I love diving deep into math education and helping students and tutors find their own mathematical mindsets.

Best vacation you’ve ever been on?

I love travelling and it’s difficult to identify a favorite. My most recent trip was to Japan and it was AMAZING! I am looking forward to being able to use my passport again!

Favorite song/artist/album?

“Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed”, David Bowie

Least favorite food?

Stuffed peppers. It was a summertime staple growing up, using peppers from our garden. I cannot stand the dish.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

COOKING! Reading and working out.

Lauren Hillesheim

I am the Program Coordinator at Cotswold Elementary school.  I was drawn to Heart because I would be able to work with children and volunteers.  My favorite part is seeing the students every day and watching their relationships with their tutors blossom and grow.  We all learn so much from each other.

Before working at Heart, what was the most unusual or interesting job you had? 

Before Heart I was an environmental scientist and my first job was in environmental remediation in Boston, MA.  I had quite a few sites where we were cleaning up contamination from the 1800’s.  Wow!

Best vacation you’ve ever been on?

My best and most unique vacation was when my husband and I went to India to participate in a dear friend’s wedding.  India is a place full of color and spice.  We were there for a couple of weeks and toured as much as we could, including the Taj Mahal.  It was an amazing adventure!

What was the first concert you attended?

New Kids On The Block- way, way before they were NKOTB haha!

What is your favorite thing to do in Charlotte?

I love Charlotte!!  We are new to the area and are still having fun exploring!  My new fav thing to explore has been all the art Charlotte has to offer.  Not just the museums, but the hidden pockets within neighborhoods. 

Debbie Kirsch

My favorite part of working at Heart is interacting with the students and tutors.  The Heart students are so hardworking, and I learn from them just as much as they learn from me.  It has been a treat to get to know the volunteers at the partner schools.  Heart volunteers are extremely dedicated, and it has been rewarding to see the bond the students and tutors form throughout the year.

Before working at Heart, what was the most unusual or interesting job you had? 

When I graduated from college, I spent time as a production planner and I scheduled the Angel Soft bath tissue at several Georgia-Pacific mills around the country.

Best vacation you’ve ever been on?

My favorite vacations include hiking in the mountains and swimming in the ocean.  I have been fortunate to visit both Costa Rica and Hawaii where I could both hike and swim.  Hawaii was by far my favorite and some of the highlights include hiking in Volcano National Park and swimming with the sea turtles. 

Favorite movie?

Growing up I loved any movie with Molly Ringwald!  Some of favorites include Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink!  My favorite songs are from the Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club soundtracks … if that doesn’t take you back to the 80s!

Padgett Vaughn

My name is Padgett Vaughn and I’ve been with Heart for 6 years! I oversee a caseload of school sites supporting the students and program there. I also meet with new schools and determine if we would be a good fit for their students, and onboard the principals and points of contact there if so. I love this role and really enjoy getting to work with so many different constituents – external partners, tutors, students and families!

Before working at Heart, what was the most unusual or interesting job you had? 

When I was 16 I made and fixed jewelry at a jewelry store – which isn’t incredibly odd except that I’m not very creative or crafty and I almost never wear jewelry!

Favorite song/artist/album?

I adore Sara Bareilles and think she is a phenomenal songwriter, musician, and human. I’ve seen her perform in lots of capacities. I also think we would be friends if she knew me!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love spending quality time playing, swimming, and reading with my 3-year-old daughter!

What was the first concert you attended?

Spice Girls with my mom when I was 10. I loved them at the time but we both thought it was too loud and left very early!!

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