Meet Goodie

May 17, 2022

Meet Goodie. Actually, her name is Gudelia Collins, but everybody calls her Miss Goodie. She’s one of the Saga Fellows, serving scholars remotely. She’s also one of the bilingual Fellows who tells the story of a very special student in South Carolina.

Her student, Jacky, was not happy working with her teachers remotely. “She had a bad experience. She totally shut down by the idea,” said Goodie. It took some patience, some listening and a little bit of a sales pitch to convince Jacky to at least give it a “trial run”.

How can I be a better tutor?
Goodie starts every session by checking in with Jacky to see how she is feeling and what is going on in her life. Then she asks her student “how can I improve as a tutor to better help you?” and Jacky gives Goodie feedback. df

 It turned out that the two have more in common than they thought. They both spoke Spanish, and they both came from low-income households, and they both experienced similar challenges in life. Slowly, they built trust with one another, and Goodie eventually became a mentor and a guide to Jacky.

Translating Algebra
Like all Saga Fellows, Goodie’s focus is always on her students and finding ways to teach math so that her Spanish-speaking students could connect with it. This student-focused approach included everything from translating the math content (especially the word problems) from English to Spanish, explaining what the concepts meant, and of course, checking for understanding.

“It’s a whole different world when it comes to explaining word problems. You’ve got to translate the language, explain the definition, what it means, and then the terminology has to be explained and retaught. Even labels on graphs and charts have to be translated and explained,” she said.

The tutors make a point to keep the English wording and the Spanish translations together, so that students can begin to recognize and connect the meanings. By breaking down the concepts in this way, Goodie noticed an extra benefit. Her students improved in their English-speaking abilities.

Reaching out to the parent or guardian
Part of Goodie’s role as a tutor is to reach out to her students’ parents or guardians with updates. In this case, it was especially important to connect because Jacky’s guardian only spoke Spanish, and she had to earn his trust as well. “He didn’t know how to communicate with the school,” she said.

With her Spanish-speaking students and parents, Goodie noticed that they had a tendency not to speak up because they were too “shy, embarrassed or afraid. I see myself as a communication anchor between the student and the teacher and the school administration,” she said.

One day, Jacky’s guardian called Goodie with a problem. “He reached out to me about something that happened at home, and Jacky confided in me as well. I felt good that she felt safe to talk to me,” said Goodie.

Goodie found out what services were available at the school and was able to connect Jacky with people and resources in the school and the community that could help her. Meanwhile, she kept a close eye on the student. She also checked in with Jacky’s teachers and Saga’s Learning Coordinator and Site Director. “I asked them if they noticed anything different about Jacky. Things like body language can tell you a lot,” she said.

Challenges and Strides
Jacky still has her good days and her bad days, but Goodie reminds her that “she is not alone, and that it does get better,” she said. “In fact, the advice I give her, I have to live by myself,” she said. “I let her know that I’m grateful for her and that she gives me the strength to keep going,” said Goodie.

“Now, Jacky is one of my best students,” said Goodie. “She’s intelligent. She’s grown so much as an individual,” said Goodie. “I see students like Jacky who are shining so brightly. It shows me that this program really works. I’m proud to be part of Saga,” she said. In fact, Goodie has signed up for another year of serving with Saga.