For Miss G, teaching in the Library means helping students with their homework and easing parents’ load.
A Balancing Act
You leave work after a full eight-hour shift. You drive to pick your nine-year-old up from school. When you get home, you cook dinner. After cleaning up, you hear your third-grader say, “Mommy, can you help me with my math homework?”
This scenario is all too familiar for many families across the city. Balancing parenting and work can be a struggle, especially when it comes to doing homework assignments. “Homework is getting harder. For example, math workbooks require that you complete an exercise following a specific set of steps,” Eva, mother of one explains.
“Before I can help my daughter, I have to study the material myself. More often than not, it ends up being a long night for both of us,” she continues.
Like most working-class parents, Eva cannot afford to hire a private tutor for her daughter, Telane. One afternoon, she visited the Library with Telane to check out some books. During their visit, she met Miss G, a teacher in the Library. They’ve been attending every day since.
“Teacher in the Library has made a difference in Telane’s attitude towards homework, and in her grades. As a parent, it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, knowing she is getting the academic support she needs,” Eva shares.
A Teacher and Resource all in one
Miss G has been a teacher in the Library at the Richard Daley branch since September of last year. Thanks to her 34 years of teaching experience, Miss G understands the dynamics in the classroom and the need for academic support after school. “I know how frustrating homework can be for parents and children. I’m here to help both ─ a teacher for students and a resource for parents,” she shares.
A retired resource teacher from Chicago Public School, Miss G is no stranger to teaching children at different grade levels, with different academic needs. “I teach children from kindergarten up to sixth grade,” she explains and then gestures to the large tables in front. “And those are the parents or guardians,” Miss G points further back.
“It is a team effort. We all have one goal: for every child to succeed. And all of us work closely together to make it happen.”
As Miss G makes her rounds to every student, explaining instructions, demonstrating a lesson, or simply checking an exercise, she also takes the time to talk to parents. “I encourage them to ask questions,” Miss G explains. “They were hesitant in the beginning, but after emphasizing that we have to be partners to get the best results, they have been much more open,” she smiles.
Miss G recommends books for students and parents. She also gives them advice ─ from read-aloud modeling, to encouraging children, to dealing with academic competition among siblings. “Students only spend a couple of hours with me and a lot of time at home. The more I can equip parents with simple strategies to reinforce the lessons they learn in school and here at the Library, the better,” she shares.
Hard work pays off
Most of Miss G’s students diligently attend Teacher in the Library sessions almost every day. “The children undoubtedly put in the hard work. Most of them come here straight from school. The same goes for parents and caregivers. A lot of them observe diligently. Sometimes, they even do the exercises with their kids,” she says with pride.
The hard work is paying off. George, a third-grader, started visiting the Library three months ago. “He didn’t like math, and he had this I-can’t-do attitude with his math homework,” Miss G recalls. Now, math is his favorite subject! Before the Christmas vacation, he started to get A’s on his assignments, quizzes, and exams.
“Regularly attending the Teacher in the Library program helped. We worked on the same concepts and process, one on one. His dad was also involved in the sessions, asking me for fun math exercises they could do at home. As he learned more, his confidence and his skills improved. Now, he’s soaring.”
As an educator, witnessing her students thrive and seeing their parents beam with pride are all Miss G can ask for.
Teacher in the Library bridges the achievement gap in Chicago by providing young learners free after-school homework help and one-to-one tutoring services─ ensuring students receive the academic support they need to be successful in school and life.
This program is made possible by Shirley H. & Benjamin Z. Gould Family, the James & Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation, Sue & Tomas F. Pick, Bears Care, Donnelley Family, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Leslie Hindman, Hoellen Family Foundation, Kemper Educational & Charitable Fund, Dr. Scholl Foundation, Sulzer Family Foundation, Diane & Wayne Diamond (In honor of Terry Diamond), Spark Cremin & Paul Dykstra, Elizabeth Amy Liebman, A. Montgomery Ward Foundation, Dia & Edward Weil, LSC Communications, Northern Trust, Comer Foundation Fund, Shawn M. Donnelley & Christopher M. Kelly, and generous donors to the Foundation.