Sausage Pizza with a Side of Algebra

March 8, 2022
Geontay Wise takes his lunch break (his favorite is sausage pizza) with a side of Algebra. The 11th grade student from Bogan High School in Chicago, IL has been a part of Saga Education’s high-impact tutoring program for two years, and now gets tutored on his own time—during lunch—just because he likes it. “It’s where it’s at,” said Wise.

“The fact that Geontay is coming during lunch is a testament to his motivation to do well in math,” said Dakota Merkel, who was one of his in-person tutors and AmeriCorps member with Saga Education.

Respect for Service
Wise has been part of the in-person tutoring as well as remote tutoring. Although he admits that remote tutoring took a little bit of time getting used to, he’s come a long way, thanks to the AmeriCorps members. “The tutors are amazing,” said Wise.

There’s a special place in Wise’s heart for the them. “When I first came here, the tutors helped me with anything and everything. I really appreciate them helping me and being there for me. The AmeriCorps members have our respect. At the end of the day, they don’t have to be here, they choose to be here to help students that have problems with math,” he said.

Football and Life
Garry Bennett, an AmeriCorps member who also worked with Geontay, found that it was important to connect math concepts to something he loved—football. “When I was able to connect football to math, he got it,” said Bennett. “We talked about math, and he put football inside of it,” agreed Wise.

 But the two men talked about more than football. They talked about life. “I encouraged him to make good decisions, the right decisions, and to do your best in life,” he said.

Both his coach and his mother gave Wise their full support on his decision to keep playing football and go to college. He is thinking about majoring in engineering. “My mom always been on me about school, but without my mom, I wouldn’t be who I am today,” said Wise.

Grade “A” Student


Still, Geontay has had his struggles, and his tutor and Site Director are focused on helping shift their students’ mindsets about math. “Like most people, he has challenges asking for help. Dakota Merkel and I worked with him to show him that he was not different or less than anyone. We can report that his attitude about asking questions and making sure he understands the work has improved. He drops in from time to time to ask questions and to let us know how he is doing in class,” said Claudy Chapman, Saga Site Director at Bogan High School.

Step by step, Geontay has “improved a lot regarding his performance” in Saga’s tutorial class, said Merkel. “He has been able to consistently complete assignments on time, contributing to his A grade. His attendance has also been very impressive – particularly considering he lives relatively far from Bogan,” he added.

If Geontay could give advice to other students about Saga, what would he say? “Any kid out there that will be coming to Saga, I’d say come in here, do your best, stay focused, and be respectful. Be positive-minded and considerate of others,” he said.

But like his name, Wise has other profound words to say. “I want to send a message to staff and to other students. I want them to see how well I’m doing, and what kind of person I am. I’m willing to work,” he said.