With kids in the park, when kids could still gather
For Jeanne Volk, it was a triple whammy. “I had been teaching fourth graders for 20 years, out of the same classroom. I loved it, but I was thinking of change, about maybe starting a tutoring center, when the Covid hit. Then, my husband’s business dried up. He does sound production, for, like, concerts, convention centers, special events. Suddenly, no events. And then my mom, who I was very close to, passed away, in March. That devastated me. Overnight, my life had changed 100 percent. I have a masters in education, and I love my job. But I could see, all the signs were on the wall. Now that we’re going into full-time distance learning, if I was going to change, this was the moment.”
Indeed, an idea she had been nurturing for years — setting up a tutoring center for kids of work-stressed parents — suddenly was even more relevant.
“Kids miss school friends they were used to seeing and playing with most days. They dislike this isolation, and also not having someone, a teacher, come to their desk to explain a problem they don’t understand,” she says. “And even if a mom or dad has the time, they don’t always cut it as teacher.”
“About the last thing my mom said to me was, ‘Do what’s good for your soul.’”
Selfie in the classroom
So, incredibly, Volk resigned her steady teaching post, and set about establishing a place where kids can study — together, but also via zoom — channeling their own classes and teachers. She hopes to launch in time for the expected August 31st school year.
“It will be a distance learning and tutoring center in Eastlake for students who need support, in an environment where they can come, and can stay focused. They bring their own device, and their head sets, to connect with their teachers, with lessons. Then they would do class homework for school. I’m calling it Treetop Tutoring Center, and we would offer that environment.”
Also, Volk says, students could develop friends, their own cohort, bubble, pod — three or four other students whom they physically meet safely every day outside the confines of home and immediate family.
What really clinched her determination was her own 5-year-old daughter Joy, who’s due to be starting in the Chula Vista public school system.
“We got the [post-covid] news that she was not going to be starting in school. She was going to do distance learning. So I appreciate what all these parents are getting ready to go through, because I’m going to go through it myself. And I’m like, ‘Wow! This is really an issue. How can I be working if my daughter’s at home?”
“Then I started thinking: if I opened up these offices a friend has offered me, and I made it a tutoring center, then I could provide an environment where kids are able to come during those prime school hours, 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh this is doable.’ We’d have to do the social distancing. In each office, we could fit five children comfortably, plus a desk for me.”
She says she’ll charge around $25 per hour. So not everybody could afford it, but if it frees parents to work, there might be incentive for state assistance to similar programs.
“It will never replace real live classrooms,” Volk says, “but one thing I’m sure of: I’m going to get more than five kids.”