Ollie and Marco are six-year-old twins and younger brother Alec is four years old. Ollie has a cognitive disability, which impacts his motor skills and speech. Marco and Alec are fairly fluent in English, but their family’s primary language, including their mother Bonnie, is Spanish. We’ve been working with this family of four at one of our community-based partners this school year.
During tutoring each week, Marco and Alec are paired with volunteer tutors who work with them on homework and building grade-level skills. A Spanish speaking volunteer works with them every night, which allows the boys to express themselves when they struggle with words or concepts, and makes tutoring a more inclusive and welcoming space.
The Brightlane Learning Education Support Coordinator (ESC) for this family works with Ollie during tutoring and engages a program staff member from the shelter as well. During tutoring, these staff members work on Ollie’s Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) goals from school. With the language barrier, some of the IEP goals can be difficult to understand and apply at home. The Brightlane ESC also works with Bonnie to help her understand these goals.
In the time we’ve been working with the Byers family, each of the brother’s confidence has soared. Marco and Alec have overcome some hurdles with word recognition and numbers. Ollie has also demonstrated growth and now comes into the tutoring room excited. He seems more comfortable and rarely cries out during the tutoring hour. This progress is due to the time dedicated to building grade-level skills, but also our ESC’s focus on each boy’s social-emotional needs. Towards the beginning of our time with the Byers family, the boys would often shut down when feeling frustrated. Today they can better articulate their feelings so that our ESC and tutors can help with problems or feelings the boys are experiencing.
In addition to the work done with Alec, Marco, and Ollie during the tutoring hour, our ESC has worked with Bonnie to create an Enroll Indy application for Alec. Bonnie is staying in the loop on this process, thanks to Enroll Indy’s bilingual staff. Our ESC has also been working with Bonnie on securing childcare for Alec when she is able to work. Securing childcare has also been a challenge due to Bonnie’s schedule and lack of transportation. Currently Bonnie is finishing up her High School degree through the Excel Center.
Bonnie is focused on securing a solid educational foundation for each of her sons and for herself. We are so happy that we get to work alongside her, support her, and celebrate her family’s accomplishments every step of the way.