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Homework Help in the Library

Thanks to the Teacher in the Library homework help program, students like Antonio are succeeding in school and beyond!

Where Else but the Library?

For many parents in Chicago, affordable and high-quality homework help may be hard to come by, and as students continue recovering from post-pandemic learning loss, it is more crucial than ever.

Enter Chicago Public Library’s signature Teacher in the Library (TIL) program. For more than 20 years, this donor-powered program has provided Chicago’s K-12 students with the support they need to thrive in and out of school. And it’s free and available within minutes of their schools, homes, or even online! Just last school year, more than 24,000 tutoring sessions were provided both in-person and virtually.

“I am really grateful for this program. I don’t have the money to afford private tutoring, so TIL is a blessing for my family,” says Niki Ortiz, a parent from the Bucktown branch.  

As a full-time working mother, Niki relies on Chicago Public Library for free resources and activities to help her 8-year-old son Antonio learn and enjoy fun activities like movie screenings, art workshops or story times with local leaders. So, when she discovered CPL offered free homework help, she added it to the list of reasons why she loves her Library.

“My family goes to the Library for everything. When I met Miss Terry and found out about Teacher in the Library, I told every parent I knew that this is a resource that is available to them for free in their neighborhoood branch.”


Team Antonio

Antonio and Miss Terry have been working together since Niki’s initial discovery of the program two years ago. “He and his parents are there Monday through Wednesday, and without hesitation, they are one of the first families to show up,” Miss Terry says. “And he is ALWAYS ready to get his homework done.”

From math worksheets to reading comprehension to writing short essays, Antonio lays all his homework on the table and gets through them one by one with Miss Terry’s guidance.

“We always do his math homework first. His teachers assign worksheets that require more steps and problem solving so they take quite a bit of time to complete,” Miss Terry says.

“Math is where he struggles more, but Miss Terry will sit there with Antonio and break things down in a way that he’ll understand. For example, if he is having trouble adding 10 and 12, she’ll physically show him 10 items and add 12 additional items. Then from there she shows him how to show his work in his book,” says Niki.

Since he started attending sessions, Antonio’s math grades have improved drastically, and he is able to tackle more challenging multiplication problems. Plus: his reading has improved to the point that he is reading beyond his second-grade class’s reading level. “He is now in the top three percentile of his class, and I really do think it’s because of this program,” says Niki.

But Miss Terry thinks it’s a team effort.

“His success is because of his hard work, yes, but I also think it’s because of the support he receives from his parents. I call them ‘Team Antonio’ because education is a team effort, and he is succeeding because he has his team there with him.”

Miss Terry

Learning as a Family

Antonio’s teachers are also noticing his improvement! Niki says she receives phone calls from his teachers celebrating his work. He’s even taking what he learned and helping his classmates or other students attending TIL sessions. 

And though Antonio is the one doing most of the learning, Niki says she’s also learned a thing or two from Miss Terry. TIL’s also work closely with parents and caregivers to ensure children can complete their homework at home.

“She’s given me pointers and tips that I can use for whenever we can’t attend sessions and I need to help him with his homework,” she explains. “It’s been a while since I was in school, and his math homework is so different than the math I remember learning. Miss Terry breaks things down in a way that even I can understand and then I can teach it to Antonio.”

Assignments may change from generation to generation, but one thing remains consistent: Miss Terry and all Teachers in the Library are equipped to meet students’ needs and help them succeed.

 “Every teacher in every Library is different but they all work hard to ensure no student is behind. And I can’t stress enough that it’s a resource that is available for free, thanks to the Library and the Library Foundation, which means so much to my family.”

Way to go, Team Antonio! Thank you to Miss Terry and other Teachers in the Library for empowering our students through learning.

Teacher in the Library is a donor-powered program funded by Amazon, The Davee Foundation, Paul M. Angell Foundation, Helen M. Harrison Foundation, Sue Pick and Family (In Loving Memory of Tom Pick), the Filler-Lewis Family Endowment, Kemper Education & Charitable Fund, The Barker Welfare Foundation, The Brinson Foundation, and other generous donors to the Chicago Public Library Foundation. This program gives thousands of students the academic support they need. With your gift, we can continue to help more children and families in Chicago.