At a homeless shelter in the heart of Dallas on Wednesday evening, kids gathered for a special tutoring session focused on Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The tutoring session is part of an initiative by Explore Horizons and Family Gateway to provide free education services to homeless children once a month.
“It’s so cute! The kids ask everyday, ‘Do we have volunteers coming today? Who’s coming today? Who’s helping me with my homework today?’ It's really sweet to see,” says Kendall Brown, brand and marketing manager at Family Gateway, a local homeless shelter. “The kids light up when they see that they have someone coming in to work with them and someone who genuinely cares about them, their education and their well-being.”
Family Gateway is unique in that it allows entire families to stay together. Other shelters typically separate men of a certain age from women, meaning mothers will sometimes get separated from their kids. Brown said that many families at Family Gateway don’t stay too long as they find more permanent homes. Explore Horizons is a tutoring service that teaches math, reading and writing to students in prekindergarten to eighth grade.
Together, the two organizations are teaming up to bring the gift of education to kids in need this holiday season.
Wednesday’s tutoring lesson was focused on reading comprehension and writing skills. The kids are shy at first, but halfway into How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, a tutor is cut off by 13-year-old Essence Isidore, who is too eager to listen.
“I want to read!”
Essence says she’s been at Family Gateway for about two months and a week — she’s been keeping track.
As Essence fumbled through the story, blaming the rhyming pattern for making it hard to read, she got the type of encouragement from the Explore Horizons tutors that she says she isn’t always used to.
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“I really like how they teach here. I learn a lot,” Essence says. “They asked us how we were doing and asked us our names, because most people who come to help us don’t do that. They just ask, ‘Do you have any work?’ and then go ahead and help you and leave.”
Belinda Southgate, head of marketing for Explore Horizons, says the tutoring service is opening a new center in Dallas that she hopes will mean more quality education services for the kids at Family Gateway.
Although it can be challenging to tutor homeless kids, Brown says the tutoring provided by Explore Horizons makes them more eager to learn.
“These children are most often extremely far behind when it comes to school and development,” she says. “We’re just so grateful for Explore Horizons and similar groups who take the time to just sit down and work with the kids. They love the one-on-one attention, and they really thrive on that environment.”