Poinciana Campus Plaza Tutors Team Stays Focused on Helping Students

The Plaza Tutors team, in pre-pandemic times

From left to right: Josue Guedes, Miguel Santiago, Marisela Varela-Russian, Samuel Stadtlander, Rey Maldonado De Leon (also in pre-pandemic times)

Friday, October 16, 2020

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses

During the last several months of online classes, many of our student services, including tutoring, have moved online as well. The Poinciana Campus Plaza Tutors team, under the supervision of Charminta Brown, manager, learning support services, Garret Gaudens, instructional lab supervisor, and Diana Budach, instructional lab supervisor, hasn’t missed a beat.

One of the team’s tutors, Miguel Santiago, first stumbled in to the Tutoring Plaza as a student looking for help with an assignment for ENC 1101. Today, he works as a tutor himself, and says, “The best part of my job is experiencing invigorating eye-opening moments with students. Having the opportunity to experience a moment of fulfillment that many students strive to achieve and not to mention work extremely hard to reach, makes my job marvelous.”

Now, having switched to tutoring online, he notes, “Embracing change and having acceptance has truly helped me adjust.”

Miguel has a vivid memory of a satisfying interaction with a speech student, who told Miguel that because English is her second language, she was nervous to present a speech. The two worked together, starting with small steps and then practicing the entire speech. Miguel says proudly, “After her speech day, she came back to the Plaza and thanked me for all the help. Being able to see the transformation the student had while becoming more comfortable was one of my most satisfying interactions.”

Marisela Varela-Russian, another Plaza tutor, also originally became familiar with the tutoring center as a student seeking help with her classes. Now, she pays it forward, having been a member of the tutoring team since 2017. She says, “The best part of my job without a doubt is when a frustrated student comes to me for help, and I am able to break the material down in a way that they can see it and understand it. To see their eyes light up is my motivation to do what I do.”

Marisela has also made some adjustments due to the pandemic, but notes that she had taken online classes, so she was familiar with Canvas. She says, “The online training to help tutors become familiar with Zoom was of great help, but the support of my direct supervisor who went into the Zoom space and helped each tutor practice and become proficient using the tools made the difference.”

Marisela treasures an email she received at the end of the summer semester from a student whom she tutored. The student shared her excitement about the grades she had earned (two As and a B), and thanked Marisela for all of her help.

The group’s supervisors shared this quote: “The Poinciana tutors are an incredible group of people with a wide range of interests and expertise. They have worked hard to adapt to the changes across the tutoring platforms while continuing to provide compassionate and reassuring support for both students and each other. We are truly grateful to be a part of this remarkable team, and we constantly in awe of the work that they do.”

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