AmeriCorps in Action

After High School, A Year Well-Spent Tutoring Eager Learners

Trixx wanted to take a gap year between high school and college and found the perfect opportunity with Math Corps.

Trixx (they/them) wanted to take a gap year between high school and college, and found the perfect opportunity with Math Corps. They started serving as a tutor in the fall of 2023, working with K-3 students at Stride Academy Charter School in St. Cloud. While Trixx had planned to head to the University of North Dakota in the fall of 2024 to study business, they’ve had such a great experience as a tutor that they’re considering deferring college to complete another year of AmeriCorps service.

This interview was originally published by our partners at ServeMinnesota.

How did you get involved with Math Corps?

I was job hunting over the summer because I wanted to leave one of my two other jobs. I saw the tutor position advertised, and it seemed like a great fit for my plan to take a gap year: The position would fill the whole school year and would also keep me in a school mindset/routine. So I ditched my job at McDonald’s and here I am, having a great time.

What do you look forward to each day when you get to school?

How eager the students are to learn. They want to learn everything and are always asking if we get to work together today. They’re excited to be in the classroom. I love seeing them skip down the hall with all that energy.

Are there students who stand out for you?

So many. I was practicing multiplication with one of my third-graders when she asked me, “Do you know the nine trick?” I had heard of it, but it never clicked for me. She told me to hold up my hands, and she taught me the trick. I looked at her wide-eyed: “It’s that easy??” I made sure she knew she’d taught me something that I never knew before. She was so proud — she loved that she was the teacher.

And I have been really amazed at the great progress so many kids have made after just three or four months of tutoring. Many of them who were benchmarked at 20% of grade level in the fall shot up to above 75% in the winter.

What memories will you take with you about your first group of students?

I picked up a group of third-graders right from lunch. They know my lunch is the same time as theirs, so almost every day one of them will ask me: “What did you have for lunch today, Mr. Trixx?” One day I told them I didn’t have lunch because I forgot to bring it. They asked with the most concern I’ve heard from any of my kids, “Are you starving?!” I had to tell them that no, I wasn’t starving, I just forgot my lunch at home. That’s something I’ll remember for a while: It cracked me up, but also made me realize how much these kids care about me.

What have you learned that you’ll take with you after your service?

I’ve become really good at negotiating and compromising. I’ll say: If we can get our work done with two minutes to spare at the end, then we can spend two minutes drawing on the whiteboard.

I’ve learned a lot about patience and being able to take a step back.

I’ve learned not to underestimate what kids can comprehend. They’re constantly observing every little thing, and they understand more than adults give them credit for.

I’ve learned how meaningful it can be to just give undivided attention. A lot of the kids I work with have many siblings. If you’re one of six kids at home and then one of 20 or more in the classroom, you don’t get a lot of one-on-one time with an engaged adult.

And I’ve learned about taking accountability. If I get something wrong — either accidentally, or on purpose as a learning tool — they will let me know! It’s a huge thing for kids to see that an adult can be wrong, acknowledge it, and learn from it. There’s never shame in getting an answer wrong. That’s just an opportunity for learning.

Whether you’re at a recent graduate taking a gap year, a retiree looking to give back, or anywhere in between in your career, Math Corps is a great way to serve your community. You can help more students succeed: learn more and apply to Math Corps here!

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