Q&A: As the FCAT looms, we chat with Dee Webber about tutoring Newtown students

The assistant director of Brothers and Sisters Doing the Right Thing, Webber will be tutoring Newtown children in preparation for the upcoming FCAT tests. We sat down with her to find out more about the organization’s good works. Here’s Webber on:

The origins of the tutoring program:

“This program was started about 10 years ago. I was a volunteer at Emma Booker Middle School and I met a young woman named Alice Faye Jones who was tutoring one of her kids. We met and enjoyed each other and we were both in there for the same thing. She said, ‘I really want to get more involved’ and we began this program Brothers and Sisters Doing the Right Thing, which was Alice’s choice of a name. What we were seeing every day was that the children just weren’t improving. The statistics will tell you. There are only two classes at Booker Middle, Emma Booker Elementary and Booker High that are above the 50 percent level on reading.”

Why you have to reach kids early:

“The problem is that if we leave kids back in FCATs in third grade for two years, which we can, by the time they get to seventh grade, they are young men. If they don’t get it then, they get frustrated and angry. The hood goes up, the attitude gets sullen, and they’re gone. Now, when you get to 10th grade, if you don’t pass the two FCATs, you’re not going to get your degree. So what’s the point in staying in? I have nothing against FCATs, I think testing kids is good. The attitude before was, ‘Why bother? They’re not going to get any better.’ This way at least the teachers are held to the line; they have to keep working; they have to keep trying. But we must be doing something wrong because we are at the bottom of a list of 50 states. We do a tutoring program every Saturday of the year. Any grade second through high school can come in and get tutored. I’m there every Saturday saying, ‘Please God, let there be enough tutors.’”

Leave a Reply