Tag Archives: tutor

Laura Kirschenbaum

January 13, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Laura Kirshenbaum is a straight-A student, but it is not good grades that her mother talks about first when describing her daughter’s scholarly accomplishments.

“It’s comments that teachers make. It’s wonderful hearing about how she treats others and how she is respectful to teachers. They say that she’s an active listener in class, that she’s kind and courteous. That’s what I’m proud about,” Jennifer Tompkins Kirshenbaum says. “You may have it in your DNA that these things are easier than for other people, or you learn at a faster pace. That may be a gift with you, but what do you do with it? Some people may have an ego with it, but Laura doesn’t. She’s grateful for what she has and is highly motivated.”

Kirshenbaum, an eighth-grader at Alice Buffett Magnet Middle School in the Omaha Public School District, admits to being a fast learner but says her excellent grades in her honors classes don’t come effortlessly. “I work hard for that,” she says.

And she definitely prefers some subjects over others. “My top subject would definitely be math,” she says. “But I love science, too: chemistry, physics, and astronomy.”

Kirshenbaum has no shortcuts to academic success to share, she says. Being a good student means being diligent: finishing the assignments, completing the reading, following directions. It also helps to have good organizational skills that ensure she’s always prepared. “I turn homework in on time and I try to stay on top of things,” she explains. “I’m proud of that.”

She even enjoys learning outside of the classroom, watching informational YouTube channels in her spare time, and competing in multiple academic events like Quiz Bowl, Science Bowl, Math Counts, Academic Pentathlon, and Book Blasters. She has an artistic side, too, that brings some balance to student life—Kirshenbaum is active in dance (ballet, modern, and jazz) and plays the violin, even performing in the orchestra pit for Omaha Public Schools’ summer musical Peter Pan in 2016.

“I also do a lot of acting,” she adds. “I’ve been in a lot of the school plays, and I’ve done some community theater as well.”

She’s even managed to make time for volleyball and local volunteering at a food bank and a homeless shelter. Two summers ago, she was a classroom helper at Jackson Elementary School. Because she’s an honors student, she is also eligible to tutor fellow students. “I like being able to help others,” she says.

Kirshenbaum says her future plans absolutely include college, which her mother and father (Matt Kirshenbaum) like to hear. It may be a little early to start choosing a particular institution, but judging by the scholarly aptitude she’s demonstrated so far, it’s clear that she’s going to be able to take her pick of schools—and programs of study—upon graduation four years from now.

“I see myself becoming a chemist,” she says. “Or a college professor in math or science.”

This article was printed in the Winter 2017 edition of Family Guide.

Finding a Summer Tutor

June 20, 2013 by

As a parent of three kids, I know the challenge of helping my own children with their homework—especially if they are really struggling. Even though I spent years as a classroom teacher, my own children seem immune to my “instructional savvy.” Instead of battling with them, I have chosen to turn to a tutor.

If you are considering hiring a tutor, I suggest reading Carole McGraw’s “Four Steps to Finding an Excellent Tutor for Your Child” on readingrockets.org. Here are a few of her suggestions in condensed form:

First, ask for suggestions from your child’s teacher about what he or she needs to work on. Before you start, know what your child needs and the goal of tutoring.

Second, know your child. How does he or she learn best? Look for someone you think would connect with your child and make learning fun.

Third, research your options. Before heading to a tutoring company, consider all possibilities. Ask if there are free options available through your child’s school. Some schools provide time before or after school for review. If this isn’t available or doesn’t do the trick, ask the school counselor how you might find a tutor outside of the school environment. Asking friends, relatives, neighbors, the local high school, the local community college/university, or posting on Facebook may provide some great resources. Be sure to ask for a résumé to check credentials, look for teaching experience in the specific subject area, check references, and meet with the person before the first session. It is wise to supervise the tutoring sessions until you and your child become more comfortable with the person.

Finally, think about how your child learns, and work with the tutor to design an age-appropriate learning plan. There are so many fun, innovative ways for children to review skills and content beyond the standard worksheet approach. Find what works best for your child. Sometimes learning a new skill or reviewing missing areas is all about finding a different approach.