A learning trick

It was about 1:15 Monday afternoon, and the doors to the classrooms that line the main building's upstairs hallway were closed, muting the voices of kindergartners hard at work.

"Trick? Do you know what means?"

[Today's blog is from Monitor correspondent Lee Lawrence.]

It was about 1:15 Monday afternoon, and the doors to the classrooms that line the main building's upstairs hallway were closed, muting the voices of kindergartners hard at work.

"Trick? Do you know what means?"

The soft voice belonged to Julia Wallace, a high school senior who tutors at ICS in the volunteer-driven program dubbed School Within a School - a moniker that seems quite literal because there Julia was, sitting in the hallway at a small desk tucked against the wall. Across from her sat - or maybe I should say, wriggled - kindergartner Mariam Rezai, an Afghan refugee who seemed more interested in wresting control of a pencil than she was in working through a picture book with Julia.

Julia hid the pencil and made up a story about having lost it; when Mariam dove under the desk to find it, Julia showed her how she had lied to make her believe something that wasn't true. "I tricked you," she said.

It was hard to tell whether Mariam took in that particular vocabulary lesson. The minute she spied the pencil, her little fingers took hold of it and she started drawing. When, again, Julia made the pencil disappear, Mariam tried the oh-so-cute smile maneuver to get it back.

Julia persisted, however, and was still persisting when I backed away, leaving them once again alone in the quiet hallway. Julia's mom teaches ESOL, and in the little time I watched her at work, it struck me that the young tutor showed signs of having learned a thing or two from her motheror maybe I should say, a trick or two.

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