Yes, I still write Kimchi, 김치

Yesterday was a very good day.

When I’m not busy taking pictures and baking things (or both!), I work as a tutor providing free tutoring services for students in underperforming Cleveland public school districts. It’s a tough job, and often involves trying to bring up students who are severely below grade level for any number of reasons, as I’m sure is the case among urban school districts around the country.

Now yesterday was special because of my favorite student, Andre. Andre is in fifth grade, likes science and drawing things. He is stoic and calm, works very diligently, and speaks sarcasm. Andre and I get along quite swimmingly.

Andre is almost finished with his forty hours of tutoring with me, and as a part of his curriculum, had to take a post test to see how he’s progressed. Yesterday Andre took that post test, and, well. Andre started working with us 34 hours ago on grade four reading materials, and he’s now reading at a sixth grade level! We’ve not only caught him up with his peers, but lifted him above his own grade level! For a student who has struggled all his life through a crowded and miserable school existence filled with negativity and feelings of inferiority, that new sense of accomplishment, of confidence, and of pride in himself was just amazing! Andre is just one student in this whole messed up system of education, but you can tell, for him, in that instant, this meant everything. I still tear up just thinking about the moment when that big shy smile slowly beamed across his whole face.

I, no joke, keep a little notebook filled with joyful moments (updated whenever a joyful moment occurs, not drilled out daily as Oprah recommends). Oh, you can bet Andre made my joy list today :)