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Volunteer Spotlight: Crystal Stroupe

August 16, 2022

As summer comes to a close and the bustle of the school year begins, we wanted to take the time to recognize the hard work of our volunteer tutors. We had the opportunity to talk with Crystal Stroupe, who will be a fifth-year Heart tutor, about her experience and dedication to her students.

Crystal found Heart through her work at Bank of America. Crystal describes connecting with Heart’s mission: “When I saw this come through and saw that it was geared towards tutoring focused on historically underdeveloped neighborhoods and schools…as well as students that if they didn’t have this program they may be missed and kind of fall between the cracks, it was an immediate click. Like, ‘check that box, sign me up, I want to join!’”

Since beginning with Heart in 2018, Crystal has tutored in-person at Whitewater Academy and Endhaven Elementary, as well as virtually at Devonshire Elementary. Heart’s Program Coordinator at Devonshire, Susan Gordon, highlights Crystal’s ability to build rapport with students. Crystal says these relationships are her favorite part of volunteering; “there’s no greater feeling than knowing that I have made a difference, even if it’s a small difference, in that child’s life.” We know that our volunteers make more than a small difference for their students, as more than 90% of teachers at our partner schools to date report that they see an increase in Heart students’ enthusiasm and confidence in math from participation in tutoring! This is a direct result of tutors like Crystal.

Crystal with her student at Devonshire’s 2022 end-of-year event.

Crystal has been able to see first-hand the growth in her students’ confidence in math. She talks about a student she tutored her first year with Heart that had recently moved to the US and was having difficulty on math tests in their classroom. Crystal remembers talking with the student and working hard based on the teacher’s feedback; she fondly recalls when “the student came running up, jumping: she had gotten her first 100 on a test! That was just the best feeling ever. What a big difference and what a big turnaround.”

When asked how she approaches getting to know students, Crystal says, “It’s just like any relationship, I think. You meet the person where they’re at. Just because they’re in elementary school versus your age doesn’t mean that you can’t ask questions and be your authentic self, and then encourage them to be their authentic self as well.” She shares that she and her students have talked about everything from Disney to their favorite ice cream flavors during tutoring sessions; she focuses on “finding those human connections so you can relate as people and not just tutor and student.”

Moving into the new school year, Crystal hopes to tutor virtually again as it provides her with more flexibility. Crystal believes that prospective tutors should know “there’s an option that can fit anyone’s schedule and anyone’s needs.” Crystal shares she only wishes that she had known about Heart sooner and recommends that, “If you’re considering volunteering, just do it. Give it a shot, see how it goes. And I’ll tell you just like I’d tell any of the students: getting it perfect isn’t what it’s all about. It’s about the learning process.”

We appreciate Crystal for taking the time to sit down and talk with us. We loved having the opportunity to hear about her experience and are so lucky to have Crystal involved as a volunteer tutor.

Join Crystal as a volunteer tutor with only 1 hour each week! Sign up at www.heartmathtutoring.org/become-a-volunteer/#volunteer or email volunteer@heartmathtutoring.org to learn more!

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