Today I tutored Jess.
Jess is a homeless 4th grader who lives on skid row. When I walked into the learning center Jess was sitting by herself with a dejected look on her face. I'm not sure why... and I'm sure I couldn't handle the reason either. These children deal with circumstances so unimaginable that sometimes it's better not to know. When she was told I'd be working with her she didn't receive me well and I thought our session would prove difficult.
Jess was given the following homework:
1. Pick a planet and find out how large it is and how much you'd weigh there.
2. Read Denture Adventure and write a report
Jess picked Saturn and researched (via wikipedia) that Saturn has a radius of 58,232 km, which I promptly showed her how to convert to miles.
Since Jess didn't know her weight we used my weight of 175 lbs to figure out how much I'd weigh on Saturn. I explained to her that I'd weigh more on Saturn because Saturn is larger and heavier then the earth, therefore it's gravitational acceleration is larger and as a result my weight would increase. Her eyes lit up and she says "Is It like since because there's lots of people on earth that we weigh more on the earth then we would on the moon because the people weigh the earth down?" I paused while I decided whether to lie or wipe the excitement off of her face with the truth. "Yes, just like that" I lied… please forgive me.
After doing math we read Denture adventure which is a story about an old man putting his dentures on a stuffed horse. Then at play period Jess made me a hat.
I don't know what was troubling Jess when I first met her today but by the end of our session Jess was a beaming happy kid without a care in the world. I can't even imagine what she has to go through on a daily basis in order to survive, and I highly doubt she'll remember the radius of Saturn or how to figure out how much someone weighs on another planet come tomorrow. But being there with her today I know made a difference. For both of us.
Thanks for my small hat Jess.