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Volunteer Spotlight: Andrew Francis

February 25, 2020

We spoke with Andrew Francis, a first-year volunteer at Allenbrook Elementary, to learn about his experience as a Heart Tutor!             


Q: How did you get involved with Heart Math Tutoring?

I’m currently working for Wells Fargo and during the Investment Banking and Capital Markets (IBCM) analyst training program, we looked at different volunteer opportunities since a lot of people are new to Charlotte and Wells wants to help us get involved in the community. Heart came in and delivered a presentation, and some other full-time Wells employees joined the presentation to speak about their experiences and how they make it work with their schedules. It was really helpful and everyone spoke very highly of it, so I decided to get involved.

Q: How did you get paired up with your partner tutor?

I didn’t know who my partner tutor was, but my student would talk about him and I realized we sit 20 feet away from each other at work! He mentioned to my student that we met, so she thinks it’s fun that we know each other and she’ll bring it up from time to time.

Q: What are the benefits of having a partner tutor and how do you utilize that relationship?

I think the biggest benefit is for the student seeing two different teachers and how they teach/present the concepts. My partner tutor may explain the concepts in a different way than I do, so our student can learn different approaches and find one that makes sense to her.

Q: Outside of math, how have you seen your student grow, change, learn, or develop?

My student is definitely more outgoing from when I first met her. When I first met her she was more reserved, now she’s coming out of her shell and showing her personality, which is really great.

Q: What is your favorite or most rewarding part of being a tutor?

The most rewarding part is just seeing my student understanding something. When we first started, she was in the More or Less notebook, identifying numbers and how they were related. Now she’s moved up to Strategies to 20, and she is going so quickly adding numbers based on tens! She even turned one activity into a game recently, where people were getting on a bus, and she had to add each number as more and more people got on the bus. It was more challenging than the original activity, and she was doing so well. I could see that she has come so far!

Q: How does your tutor experience impact other parts of your life?  

It impacts my life just by slowing things down. Things move so quickly at work, and taking the time to slow down and go to the school, spend time with my student helping her understand new math concepts and doing something outside of work really helps put things in perspective. It’s great to do something different during the day, and give back to the Charlotte community. It’s so different from my day-to-day life, being in the school and interacting with people I wouldn’t normally interact with and broadens my perspective. Taking the time to give back just makes you feel good!

“It impacts my life just by slowing things down. Things move so quickly at work, and taking the time to slow down and go to the school, spend time with my student helping her understand new math concepts and doing something outside of work really helps put things in perspective.”

Q: How has the support from Heart and the Program Coordinators impacted your experience?

Nicky is awesome, she’s engaged and knows all the students; they all say “Hi” to her when they walk in. She makes it a really positive and welcoming experience. She makes you feel comfortable at the school which is nice. At the beginning she helped me with logistics and how everything works, and now that I know the flow, she’s really present and helping with the activities and doing knowledge checks with the students.

Q: What would you say to someone who says…

I am no good at math…

I wouldn’t worry about that. Everything is broken down and clearly laid out for you. The math is not that intense, and your coordinator is always there and willing to help.

I am no good with kids…

I wouldn’t let that stop you. You may be imagining being in charge of a large, hectic group of kids, but this is one-on-one. The kids want to be there with you, and they stay focused and work hard. You don’t feel like you’re “working with kids.” You feel like you’re working together with someone, helping them with math.

I don’t have a partner tutor to sign up with…

Don’t worry about that! Heart will match you up with someone, and you don’t work very closely with your partner tutor anyway; it won’t have any effect on how you work with your student.

I don’t have time in my schedule…

Everyone has time in their schedule. You can be working 70, 80, 90 hours a week and still make it work. My program coordinator is extremely flexible if I have something come up for work, and helps me reschedule for another day that week.

Q: Anything else you want the world to know about Heart?

I think some people are worried about the time commitment, but waking up early just one morning a week is so doable. People are supportive at work and it’s so worth it – it helps you as well as the student.

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